Where’s the money? Father of Michael Brown Jr. demands $20 million from Black Lives Matter Global Network

FERGUSON, MO – Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation is being called to the carpet by its national birthplace as activists and the father of Michael Brown Jr. demand $20 million from the group saying they do not know where all the money is going.

The shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson in August 2014 sparked months of rioting and unrest and shot Black Lives Matter into the national spotlight. Now, his father wants to know where the $90 million raised by the group in donations have gone.

Michael Brown Sr. asked the question in a March 2 press release from the International Black Freedom Alliance:

“Where is all that money going? Why hasn’t my family’s foundation received any assistance from the movement?  How could you leave the families who are helping the community without any funding?”

The co-founder of the International Black Freedom Alliance also wanted to know where the money was going, saying financial support from Black Lives Matter had not been seen in Ferguson. Tony Russell said:

“We’re not asking for a handout, but for the funding to keep the movement strong where it began.”

Russell said that Ferguson should receive a portion of the funds from BLMGNF because the city launched the BLM movement. The International Black Freedom Alliance said:

“Momentum from the 2014 unrest and the subsequent protest that local activists organized for several months after were the catalyst for the group being propelled into the position to receive the 90 million.”

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF), the steward of the Black Lives Matter movement, released an impact report in late February showing the organization raised just over $90 million last year, according to an article by The Associated Press.

The financial release was the first in the nearly eight-year history of the movement.  The group’s earnings capability grew rapidly following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, and the rapid financial growth has created divisions between the national organization and its grassroots supporters.

In a stark response to Michael Brown Sr. and Tony Russell’s funding demand, BLMGNF said that despite the claims of Ferguson being the birthplace of the group, BLMGNF was not formed until 2015, a year after the Ferguson incident.

BLMGNF also said they never received a formal request for funding from the foundation founded by Brown Sr. 

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The Chosen for Change Foundation, founded by Brown Sr., has not responded to media inquiries regarding any previous financial requests made to BLMGNF prior to the public demand this week.

BLMGNF said it has committed $21 million of the funds raised in 2020 to BLM chapters and other black-led groups across the country. The group gave the example of a funding distribution made for $3 million to black people struggling through the pandemic.

BLMGNF said that the organization is in the process of setting up a system to handle the rapid growth it has experienced:

“(We are) building infrastructure to catch up to the speed of its funding and plan to use its endowment to become known for more than protests after Black Americans die at the hands of police or vigilantes.”

Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of BLMGNF, said the organization is focusing on reinvestment in black communities:

“One of our biggest goals this year is taking the dollars we were able to raise in 2020 and building out the institution we’ve been trying to build for the last seven and a half years.”

In December, ten BLM chapters issued an open letter addressing grievances over BLMGNF’s lack of transparency.  In the letter, the chapters attack the umbrella group over concerns about financial transparency, decision-making by the leaders, and accountability:

“We became chapters of Black Lives Matter as radical black organizers embracing a collective vision for black people engaging in the protracted struggle for our lives against police terrorism. With a willingness to do hard work that would put us at risk…

“We expected that the central organizational entity, most recently referred to as the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) Foundation, would support us chapters in our efforts to build communally. Since the establishment of BLMGN, our chapters have consistently raised concerns about financial transparency, decision making, and accountability.”

BLM Oklahoma City lead organizer Sheri Dickerson said people incorrectly assume the funds are going to the grassroots chapters:

“People assume that that money is distributed to local chapters. That is not the case. People also assume that when actions are made, that national [leadership] has the support and agreement from this collective that what they’re saying is representative of us. And that’s certainly not the case.”

The open letter urged people to start donating to the chapters instead of the BLMGNF.

Back in Ferguson, Brown Sr. and Russell say the $20 million they have demanded from BLMGNF would be used to build a community center to honor Michael Brown Jr. and to provide financial support to the families of activists Darren Seals and Josh Williams.

Darren Seals is a BLM protester who was found shot dead in a burning vehicle in 2019. Police say he was shot before he was placed in a car that was set on fire.

Josh Williams is a BLM protester who is incarcerated on charges related to BLM unrest in Ferguson.

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by 28-year-old Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Wilson claimed that Brown attacked him in his police vehicle and attempted to gain control of his firearm. During the struggle, Wilson shot and killed Brown.

Brown was shot several times during the incident, and a grand jury investigated. The grand jury decided not to indict Wilson. A later federal investigation also cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting. The federal investigation found that evidence supported Wilson’s version of the shooting.

The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Wilson shot Brown in self-defense.

In 2020, a St. Louis prosecutor, Welsey Bell, spent five months reviewing the case and trying to charge Wilson with either manslaughter or murder. In July, Bell announced that no charges were warranted.

 

 

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Author: Scott A. Davis


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