BLM Revolt: Local Chapters Want Answers on Finances, Transparency from National Leaders

Leaders of several local Black Lives Matter chapters around the U.S. said in an undated online statement that they want transparency about finances and other operations of the national group, Black Lives Matter Global Network.

The statement begins with questions about changes in the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, including the appointment of Patrisse Cullors as its executive director, the formation of the Black Lives Matter Political Action Committee, and another group, BLM Grassroots.

The local chapters signing the statement include Washington, DC, Chicago, Vancouver, Washington, and Philadelphia:

We, the undersigned chapters, believe that all of these events occurred without democracy, and assert that it was without the knowledge of the majority of Black Lives Matters chapters across the country and world.

We became chapters of Black Lives Matter as radical Black organizers embracing a collective vision for Black people engaging in the protracted struggle for our lives against police terrorism. With a willingness to do hard work that would put us at risk, we expected that the central organizational entity, most recently referred to as the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) Foundation, would support us chapters in our efforts to build communally. Since the establishment of BLMGN, our chapters have consistently raised concerns about financial transparency, decision making, and accountability. Despite years of effort, no acceptable internal process of accountability has ever been produced by BLMGN and these recent events have undermined the efforts of chapters seeking to democratize its processes and resources.

The statement said changes need to be made “in the spirit of transparency, accountability, and responsibility to our community, we believe public accountability has become necessary.”

The group then lists its grievances: 

  • Patrisse Cullors, as the sole board member of BLMGN, became Executive Director against the will of most chapters and without their knowledge.
  • The newly announced formation, BLM Grassroots, does not have the support of and was created without consultation with the vast majority of chapters.
  • The formation of BLM Grassroots effectively separated the majority of chapters from BLMGN without their consent and interrupted the active process of accountability that was being established by those chapters
  • In our experience, chapter organizers have been consistently prevented from establishing financial transparency, collective decision making, or collaboration on political analysis and vision within BLMGN
  • For years there has been inquiry regarding the financial operations of BLMGN and no acceptable process of either public or internal transparency about the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGN, which has certainly increased during this time of pandemic and rebellion.
  • To the best of our knowledge, most chapters have received little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013. It was only in the last few months that selected chapters appear to have been invited to apply for a $500,000 grant created with resources generated because of the organizing labor of chapters. This is not the equity and financial accountability we deserve.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on some infighting in June:

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in June that Black Lives Matter Global Network spent $4.5 million on consultants, travel and compensation for its staff from July 2017 through June 2019 while at the same time providing only $328,000 to outside groups such as the local autonomous BLM chapters that carry out the movement’s work.

Former BLM Global Network Managing Director Kailee Scales told the DCNF in June that the figures from its fiscal sponsor’s financial statements “do not reflect, for example, the in kind support for chapters and fundraising directed to chapters and programmatic assistance to chapters.” 

“That work was carried out by employees and consultants to BLM,” Scales said.

The statement concludes by saying the local chapters will continue to press for change and encourages people to donate to local BLM groups.

“We remain committed to collectively building an organization of BLM chapters that is democratic, accountable, and functions in a way that is aligned with our ideological values and commitment to liberation,” the statement concluded. “We will move forward with transparency and expound on our collective efforts to seek transparency and organizational unity in a fuller statement in the near future. As we collectively determine next steps, we encourage our supporters to donate directly to chapters, who represent the frontline of Black Lives Matter.”

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