Black Lives Matter leader fleeced organization for $10M, according to lawsuit: ‘Personal piggy bank’

Black Lives Metter Global Network Foundation board of directors member Shalomyah Bowers has been accused by fellow activists of ripping off $10 million for the organization for his own personal use, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Black Lives Matter Grassroots, an assembly of official Black Lives Matter chapters, called Bowers a “rogue administrator, a middle man turned usurper” in the lawsuit and claimed he used donations to the foundation as a “personal piggy bank,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

Thanks to Bowers’ “fraud and misrepresentation,” the lawsuit alleges, the Global Foundation became to focus of investigations from the IRS and various state attorneys general, causing “irreparable harm to BLM in less than eighteen months.”

“While BLM leaders and movement workers were on the street risking their lives, Mr. Bowers remained in his cushy offices devising a scheme of fraud and misrepresentation to break the implied-in-fact contract between donors and BLM,” the suit accuses.

Black Lives Matter Grassroots serves as the “umbrella organization” for local BLM chapters. Donations to the administrative Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation are dispersed to BLM Grassroots, led by Melina Abdullah.

According to Influence Watch, the BLM Global Foundation is a 501(c0(3) that received fiscal sponsorship from the Tides Center, itself a sketchy “umbrella group” described as “an organization that ‘washes’ away the paper trail between its grants and the original donor.” Major donors to the Tides Center include George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

While the lawsuit against Bowers didn’t provide much in the way of details about Bowers’ alleged crime, it did lay out the leadership changes and power shifts that let to his tightly controlled hold over the Foundation.

Bowers has denied any wrongdoing and has accused his accusers of “falling victim to the carceral logic and social violence that fuels the legal system.”

Predictably, he called the Grassroots organization racist.

In a joint statement, the three members of BLM Global Network Foundation’s board of directors said that those suing Bowers “would rather take the same steps of our white oppressors and utilize the criminal legal system which is propped up by white supremacy (the same system they say they want to dismantle) to solve movement disputes.”

According to the attorney representing BLM Grassroots, Bowers, who was hired in 2020 by BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, gave grants to his own consultant firm. The suit alleges that he then charged eight-figure fees for the service.

“The lawsuit demands that they return the people’s funds and stop impersonating Black Lives Matter,” Mosley said in a statement.

In a tweeted statement on Saturday , BLM Grassroots said, “Black Lives Matter Grassroots is #BlackLivesMatter. It belongs to the people.”

“We find ourselves in the midst of a massive struggle to return the resources and tools to those who birthed, built, and fuel the movement,” the organization continued. “We will win.”

In an attached statement, the group announced, “More than one hundred families and globally-recognized movement workers have signed on to a letter demanding the resignation of Shalomyah Bowers from the BLM Global Network Foundation.”

Melissa Fine


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