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Black Lives Matter activists spent money received as donations to buy luxurious mansion

Patrisse Cullors resigned as executive director of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation on 27 May within days of a chat going viral, but other key activists walked scot-free

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American media — news websites like the Magazine, New York Post, Snopes, Daily Mail etc — have reported that activists of the campaign Black Lives Matter have bought a house that cost them $ 6 million. They have reported that three leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement, namely Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Melina Abdullah, were spotted sitting around a table on the patio of an expensive house in southern California, recording a YouTube video to mark the first anniversary of criminal-turned-Black hero George Floyd’s murder. The media outlets say the activists discussed their racial-justice work and the difficulties they had faced over the year.

But some of them have already paid a for their alleged ill-gotten after their chat went viral. “For me, the hardest moments have been the right-wing-media machine just leveraging literally all its weight against me, against our movement, against BLM the organisation,” Cullors said. “I’m some weeks out now from a lot of the noise, so I have more perspective, right? While I was in it, I was in survival mode.”

Cullors was referring to an April 2021 article in the Post that revealed her purchase of four homes for nearly $ 3 million. The disclosures had contributed to the idea that there is a disturbing gap between the fortunes of the movement’s most visible figures and on-the-ground activists across the country, and Cullors resigned as executive director of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation on 27 May — within a few days of the chat.

“I think they’ve attempted to cancel us, but they have not been successful in canceling us,” Abdullah said at another point in the conversation. “They’ve attempted to say — and I’m just gonna say it — ‘She bought some damn houses. We gonna cancel her.’” Garza cut in with a comment seemingly addressed to critics: “Y’all don’t know shit about what it takes to live in a box here.” A box? Seriously?

Spread over more than 6,500 square feet, having more than half a dozen bedrooms and bathrooms, several fireplaces, a soundstage, a pool and bungalow and parking for more than 20 cars, the house in California was purchased for nearly $ 6 million in cash in October 2020 with money that had been donated to BLMGNF — according to real-estate listings.

The man who bought the seven-bedroom house was Dyane Pascall. He purchased it two weeks after BLMGNF received $ 66.5 million from its fiscal sponsor earlier that month. Pascall is the financial manager for Janaya and Patrisse Consulting — an LLC operated by Cullors and her spouse, Janaya Khan, Magazine had reported.

Pascall transferred the ownership of the property within a week to an LLC in Delaware, ensuring that the house’s owner would not be disclosed, according to the report.

Cullors, BLM’s co-founder, resigned in May as the group’s executive director amid criticism over buying three homes in the Los Angeles area and another outside Atlanta.

Not previously reported, it was a $ 6 million purchase. BLM officials tried to keep its existence a secret from a journalist looking into the transaction, according to the report.

The organisation tried to “kill” the story about the home, referred to internally as the “complex”, while one strategy memo reportedly suggested it might be used as an “influencer house” where artists can assemble.

The property was meant to serve as “housing and studio space” for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship, BLMGNF board member Shalomyah Bowers told the magazine in a statement issued on Friday.

The foundation had “always planned” to disclose the home’s legal filings this May and it doesn’t serve as anyone’s personal residence, Bowers said.

However, according to the report, the statement did not spell out why little content has been produced there over some 17 months if it was in fact intended to be a creative space.

A non-profit domain expert said the sheer size of the buy might subject BLM to more criticism about its lackluster transparency. “That’s a very legitimate critique,” Candid co-founder Jacob Harold told the outlet. “It’s not a critique that says what you’re doing is illegal or even unethical; it might just be strategic.”

Having contributed to the creation of a service that tracks American non-profit organisations, Harold questioned whether the funds could have been better spent elsewhere.

“Why aren’t you spending it on policy or, you know, other strategies that an organization might take to address the core issues around Black Lives Matter?” Harold asked.

The activists acquired the property in “furtherance of BLM’s mission” and also for any ancillary usages as needed, Bowes said in a statement to The Post on Monday.

“The organization always planned to disclose the property on the upcoming 990 due May 15 as part of BLMGNF’s ongoing transparency efforts,” Bowers’ statement continued. “BLMGNF has and continues to utilise the space for programming and leadership off-sites. The property does not serve as a personal residence.”

But at least one activist in Missouri has said he was dismayed upon learning of the “complex” in California. “It’s a waste of resources,” Ferguson activist Tory Russell told the Magazine.

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