The leader of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which represents the national BLM movement, has been accused of stealing more than $10 million from the organization, according to a lawsuit filed last week.
The suit was brought on by Black Lives Matter Grassroots (BLMGR), a nonprofit that serves local BLM chapters, and alleges that Shalomyah Bowers defrauded chapters for "unjust enrichment," using donations as his own "personal piggy bank."
"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 suit alleges.
Bowers was hired in 2020 by BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors. Cullors resigned in 2021 following allegations of misusing millions of dollars in donations.
Last Thursday, BLMGNF's board of directors adamantly denied the allegations against Bowers in a joint statement, calling the accusations "false" and "slanderous."
"The BLMGNF Board of Directors has been consistent and truthful. We will not be quiet or idle while lies are spread about our work and our integrity," the statement said in part. "Make no mistake, the allegations of Melina Abdullah and BLM Grassroots (BLMGR) are false. They are slanderous and devoid of reality."
The board, which is made up of three members (including Bowers), claimed BLMGR and its director, Abdullah, are perpetuating white supremacy and "using the oppressor's tools" in taking legal action.
"Our hearts are broken at this moment because white supremacy is the winner when movement leaders take the approach of publicly 'calling out' comrades instead of 'calling-in,'" the statement continues. "We as Black people and Black-led organizations cannot continue spending all of our precious time and energy fighting and tearing each other down."
The lawsuit was announced at a news conference held by Abdullah, in which she said, "The assets that we built, the financial resources, the social media platforms and the name ‘Black Lives Matter’ have been taken from us and are under the control of consultants."
According to attorney Walter Mosley, who is representing the plaintiffs, “the lawsuit demands that they return the people’s funds and stop impersonating Black Lives Matter."