Who is Shalomyah Bowers? BLM leader accused of stealing $10M from funds he used as 'personal piggy bank'
'Instead of using the donations for its intended purposes, Mr. Bowers diverted these donations to his own coffers,' BLMGR said in the lawsuit
A Black Lives Matter leader allegedly stole more than $10 million from the group, other organizers in the movement claimed in a lawsuit. In the suit filed on Thursday, September 1, Shalomyah Bowers was accused of using the group as a "personal piggy bank". Bowers is a board member of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF). The lawsuit has been filed by Black Lives Matter Grassroots (BLMGR).
It alleged that BLMGR leaders have been lining their own pockets with "$10,000 monthly stipends" instead of supporting local groups and families. The national fundraising arm of the movement, BLMGFN distributes money to local groups through BLMGR. The BLMGFN, in a statement, blasted the allegations as "harmful, divisive, and false".
"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," BLMGFN said in the statement. "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."
“Mr. Bowers decided he could not let go of his personal piggy back,” BLM Grassroots said in the lawsuit filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court, reported NYPost. “Instead, he continued to betray the public trust by self-dealing and breaching his fiduciary duties. Instead of using the donations for its intended purposes, Mr. Bowers diverted these donations to his own coffers and intentionally took calculated steps to prevent those same resources from being used by BLM for on-the-ground-movement work.”
The lawsuit referred to Bowers as a "rogue administrator, a middle man turned usurper" whose consulting firm was paid $2 million by BLMGNF in 2020. "While BLM leaders and movement workers were on the street risking their lives, Mr Bowers remained in his cushy offices devising a scheme of fraud and misrepresentation to break the implied-in-fact contract between donors and BLM," the lawsuit says, according to the Daily Mail.
BLMGR leader Melina Abdullah slammed BLMGNF at a press conference on September 1, accusing the group of losing touch with the movement's foundations. "Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has been taken away from the people who built it," she said. "Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is now led by a highly paid consultant who paid himself upward of $2 million in a single year."
Firing back, BLMGNF said in its statement, "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."
Previously, Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors was accused of using more than $800,000 in donations to pay her brother for “security services” for the charity. She also allegedly snapped up properties in Los Angeles and Atlanta following a $3.2 million real estate buying spree. She resigned from BLMGNF in May 2021 following the allegations. As per public records, she eventually sold the Atlanta property. Salso denied the fact that she used the charity money for her personal purchases.