CNN

Black Lives Matter executive accused of ‘syphoning’ $10M from BLM donors, suit says

Sep 4, 2022, 7:40 PM | Updated: Sep 6, 2022, 11:13 am
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 23: Diamond Wright (R), sister of Daunte Wright, speaks with activist Ta...
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 23: Diamond Wright (R), sister of Daunte Wright, speaks with activist Tanya James, outside the Hennepin County Government Center on December 23, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Jury deliberations are ongoing in the trial of former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, who is charged with manslaughter in the April 2021 shooting death of Daunte Wright. Potter says she thought she was using her Taser when she shot Wright with her handgun. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

(CNN) — An executive at Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (GNF), is accused of “syphoning” more than $10 million from donors, the grassroots arm of the BLM organization said a court filing this week.

The suit is against executive Shalomyah Bowers, the foundation itself, Bowers’ consulting firm and unnamed individuals.

Bowers was hired by BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors in 2020 to help run the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (GNF), an extension of the Black Lives Matter grassroots organization, the suit said.

Bowers denied the claims leveled in the suit, which BLM Grassroots presented in a news conference last week, saying in a statement posted on the BLM website that the accusations are “harmful, divisive, and false.”

GNF was originally created by Cullors “as an administrative organization to raise funds to provide financial support for local-level community efforts of BLM Grassroots,” the suit said, while the BLM Grassroots organization did the “on-the-ground” work.

Cullors initially oversaw the GNF, but in May 2021 “decided she could no longer lead GNF and that it should wind down and transition the entire organization to BLM Grassroots,” the suit said.

In that same month, Cullors notified Bowers and Melina Abdullah of a “formal transition plan” of GNF’s leadership, along with other internal leaders. Abdullah is a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of BLM.

Bowers took umbrage with this recollection of events in the statement posted on BLM’s site. “BLMGR and Melina Abdullah read a press statement claiming that Patrisse Cullors created a transition plan giving all of BLMGNF’s assets to BLM Grassroots. That is absolutely false,” Bowers said.

“Mr. Bowers and the GNF Leadership Council agreed to execute the transition plan set forth by Ms. Cullors,” the suit said. “However, Mr. Bowers, who made $2,167,894 million dollars from GNF in less than eight months, decided he wanted to keep the ‘piggy bank’ that GNF had become to him and his company.”

Bowers was also supposed to disclose certain financial and organizing information other leaders within the group, but “refused” to so, the suit alleges.

“Within months, Bowers had run these well-respected advocates out of the organization,” the suit alleges. “Through a series of misrepresentations and unauthorized backroom dealings, Mr. Bowers managed to steal control over GNF as the sole Board member and officer.”

The suit also said Bowers changed social media account passwords for the grassroots organization and tried to “to register the trademark of BLM Grassroots using the logo and design of BLM Grassroots leader Angela Waters, in what appears to be an attempt to ‘steal’ the logo or prevent BLM Grassroots from utilizing.”

The BLM grassroots organization said in the suit that Bowers has siphoned money.

“Mr. Bowers continues to fraudulently raise money from unsuspecting donors passing himself off as the organization that is doing the work of BLM, padding his own pockets at that of his associates at the cost of BLM’s reputation,” the suit said.

The grassroots organization arm of the organization is asking for a jury trial and accuses Bowers of unfair businesses practices, fraud and intentional misrepresentation, among other claims.

CNN reached out to Bowers through his consulting firm Sunday but did not receive a response.

GNF has since responded to the claims, in a statement saying:

“The BLMGNF Board requested — on over ten occasions — private mediation or meetings with Melina Abdullah and BLM Grassroots, including and regarding social media policies. We did so in order to stay true to principles of abolition — resolving issues through conflict mediation rather than falling victim to the carceral logic and social violence that fuels the legal system.

“But Melina Abdullah and BLMGR ignored or refused our offers. To the contrary, 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.

“In particular, Melina Abdullah and BLMGR’s storytelling concerning the current BLMGNF Board is harmful, divisive, and false. It only gives fodder to right-wing media’s clear agenda of sowing distrust and division among Black folks, and it is in deep contrast to abolitionist values and the fight for Black liberation.

“Therefore, BLMGNF is forced to respond publicly to Melina and BLMGR’s attacks against BLMGNF and its current leadership. So respond we will, with love, facts, and a spirit of transparency which has been our focus over the last six months, as noted by the release of our IRS Form 990 and our BLM Transparency Center.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

CNN

An attack ad dishonestly edits 2017 comments from Utah candidate Evan McMullin, seen here on July 2...
Daniel Dale, CNN

Fact check: Attack ad dishonestly edits 2017 comments from Utah candidate Evan McMullin

CNN fact checkers run through the conservative super PAC ad targeting the Utah Senate seat challenger.
21 hours ago
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 03: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during af...
Paul R. La Monica, CNN Business

Dow rallies more than 1,500 points in two days

Is the worst really over on Wall Street? It's too soon to say. But stocks rose sharply again Tuesday following Monday's big rally.
21 hours ago
FILE: SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  Vladimir Putin, President of Russia speaks during the Pr...
Joshua Berlinger and Olga Voitovych, CNN

Ukraine is hitting Russia hard in the regions Moscow is trying to seize

Vladimir Putin sought to finalize the formalities of its claim to four Ukrainian regions, none of which are fully controlled by Russia anymore.
21 hours ago
FILE: North Koraen Leader Kim Jong Un (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)...
Yoonjung Seo, Emiko Jozuka, Brad Lendon and Simone McCarthy, CNN

North Korea launches missile over Japan, sending residents to shelter

Japan urged residents to take shelter early Tuesday morning after North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile over the north of the country.
2 days ago
The competitors allegedly used fillet and lead balls to weigh down their walleye. Anglers win based...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

Cheating scandal at Ohio tournament rocks competitive fishing world

The would-be winners of almost $29,000 at an Ohio fishing tournament were disqualified on Friday after it was discovered their fish were stuffed with lead weights and fish fillets.
2 days ago
MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell greets the crowd during a "Save America" rally at Alaska Airlines Center ...
Dan Berman, CNN

Supreme Court allows defamation lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell to proceed

Dominion Voting Systems' defamation lawsuit against MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell can move forward after the Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider Lindell's attempt to block the case.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Black Lives Matter executive accused of ‘syphoning’ $10M from BLM donors, suit says