The Black Lives Matter movement was supposed to be a positive force for racial justice. Instead, it supported an organization fraught with corruption.
Shalomyah Bowers, BLM Global Network Foundation board secretary, is accused of funneling over $10 million from the organization to his consulting firm as "fees," the Washington Examiner reported. A lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Legal documents filed on behalf of the Black Lives Matter Grassroots, which represents BLM chapters nationwide, accused Bowers of using the organization as his "personal piggy bank." He's also accused of being a "rogue administrator" and a "middle man turned usurper" for his scheme.
In just 18 months at the helm, Bowers' managed to draw scrutiny from various state attorneys general and the IRS. It wasn't just the financial troubles that marred Bowers' tenure, however.
According to Melina Abdullah, co-founder of BLM-Los Angeles, Bowers had locked top leaders out of the organization's social media account. Abdullah further accused the executive board of "engaging in self dealing, enriching themselves off of the backs of people who put their blood, sweat and tears into this movement."
Abdullah estimates that the BLM Global Network Foundation holds some $100 million in assets. The organization raked in $90 million after George Floyd's death in May 2020 sparked fervent calls for racial justice that translated into big donations.
However, this much money flowing through an organization with little financial transparency has been an invitation for alleged malfeasance. BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who has close ties to Bowers, stepped down from the foundation in May 2021 amid concerns about her curiously lavish lifestyle.
Both Bowers and the BLM Global Network and Foundation have denied wrongdoing. "They 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," a statement from the organization said.
The BLM has too much money and too little transparency. That's a recipe for corruption, regardless of the organization's stated mission.