BLM foundation leader Shalomyah Bowers accused of siphoning donations

  • Black Lives Matter’s “on-the-ground” activism organization is suing the BLM Global Network Foundation.
  • BLM GNF leader Shalomyah Bowers is accused of siphoning $10 million from funds meant to support BLM organizing.
  • The lawsuit represents another high-profile display of infighting at the organizations that led the BLM movement in 2020.

A group of Black Lives Matter activists accused an administrator of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, a nonprofit that collects donations on behalf of the movement, of siphoning $10 million in donations, according to a lawsuit.

The suit filed last week in a Los Angeles court on behalf of Black Lives Matter Grassroots, the “on-the-ground” organizing arm of BLM, alleges that Shalomyah Bowers, who was hired by the BLM Global Network Foundation to manage its donation fund , refused to resign after calls to do so from more than 300 BLM members and uprooted plans to transfer control of the organization to BLM Grassroots.

“Mr. Bowers decided he could not let go of his personal piggy bank… Instead, he continued to betray public trust by self-dealing and breaching his fiduciary duties,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit says Bowers diverted donations “to his own coffers” and took “calculated steps” to prevent the funds from being used by BLM Grassroots after recent incidents, like the mass shooting in Buffalo and police shooting of Jayland Walker in Akron, Ohio.

The foundation called the allegations “slanderous and devoid of reality.”

Artists and community members touch up the Black Lives Matter!  Mural along Plum Street in front of City Hall, Wednesday, June 15, 2022, in Cincinnati.  Artists with Black Art Speaks and community volunteers refreshed the outline of each letter.

A ‘fight for the soul’ of BLM

Black Lives Matter Grassroots announced the lawsuit at a press conference last week, declaring it a “fight for the soul of #BlackLivesMatter.” The group is fronted by Melina Abdullah, the leader of Black Lives Matter’s Los Angeles chapter.

“Sometimes the existing system uses people who look like us to advance its interests,” Abdullah said at the press conference, flanked by fellow activists. “It’s much more difficult to have to face challenges from within. But that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Portrait of Dr.  Melina Abdullah, former chair of the department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles and a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter on August 18, 2020.

Bowers and his consulting firm, Bowers Consulting, were hired in the fall of 2020 by Patrisse Cullors, former executive director of the BLM Global Network Foundation and a BLM co-founder, to help administer the foundation’s fund after it saw an unprecedented influx of donations during the George Floyd protests that erupted across the country in the summer of 2020, according to the lawsuit.

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