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Who is managing BLM funds now? Fate of $60M funding uncertain after Patrisse Cullors resigns

Charity won't confirm who is in charge of multi-million dollar funding after a report said 'no one knows' who's in charge of the organization
UPDATED JAN 28, 2022
A Black Lives Matter flag at a protest (David Ryder/Getty Images) with an insert of Patrisse Cullors (Sarah Morris/Getty Images)
A Black Lives Matter flag at a protest (David Ryder/Getty Images) with an insert of Patrisse Cullors (Sarah Morris/Getty Images)

Back in May 2021, Patrisse Cullors shocked the world after announcing she was stepping down as the leader of Black Lives Matter (BLM), a protest movement that later turned into a charity. Over seven months later, that decision has come with severe ramifications not just for the group, but also its supporters who are now being forced to ask - what happened to their money?

BLM was officially registered as a charity in December 2020, and in two years has reportedly racked up over $60 million in funding. The big question now is - who's in charge of the money? Cullors nominated Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele to take over from her after she was brought down by a massive scandal, but the two never officially accepted or took over the role. It means that the charity now has no leader and its tax returns have not been filed since 2019. 


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It means that the $60 million is now in limbo, but more importantly,the charity could be in major legal trouble. It was compared to "a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction," by CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron. 

Patrisse Cullors attends the "Bedlam" Premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival on January 28, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

Who controls BLMs funds?

The situation of the BLM charity was first exposed by The Washington Examiner, which reported "No one appears to have been in charge at Black Lives Matter for months." Since Cullors resignation, only two board members remain, both of whom refused to talk to the publication. One legal expert told The Examiner, "This is grossly irregular and improper for a nonprofit with $60 million in its coffers."

Cullors stepped down after allegations she used funding from the charity to purchase real estate, which she denied. Nonetheless, Cullors stepped down as the controversy grew, but Themba and Bandele never took up their roles as her replacement, citing differences with the organization. "We never actually started in the position, so we never received any detailed information," Themba told The Examiner.

That leaves only two alternatives - board members Shalomyah Bowers and Raymond Howard. However, both declined to speak with The Examiner, and distanced themselves from BLM. Howard reportedly modified his social profiles, including LinkedIn to scrub any mention of BLM. Even if the two did respond, it would still raise flags because the charity's bylaws explicitly state that its Executive Director "shall have charge of all funds and securities of the Corporation." 

A demonstrator holds a placard reading "BLACK LIVES MATTER" during a protest on October 27, 2020, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Mark Makela/Getty Images)

The last time the charity revealed its financial status was in a 2020 Impact Report, published in February 2021. The report said it ended the year with $60 million in its bank accounts, after incurring expenses of $8.4 million. It also appears the group has not submitted its Form 990 for 2020, which should be a matter of public record. Having not done so, the group is at risk of being fined by the IRS or state-level charity oversight agencies.

Right now, it seems as if the organization is disbanded or at least no longer active, with millions sitting in its bank accounts. The situation has prompted one legal expert to call for a full audit. However, without an individual to hold responsible, that could prove to be a challenge for the authorities.