A Black Lives Matter cofounder used $840,000 of the group's funds to pay her brother for 'security services'

·3 min read
Patrisse Cullors
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, stepped down as executive director of the organization in May 2021.Paras Griffin/Getty Images
  • A cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Foundation paid her brother $840,000, per tax documents.

  • He was hired to help with security as organizers didn't trust other firms with the matter.

  • The tax filing details how the foundation spent much of the $90 million it received in donations.

A cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation used donated funds to pay her brother $840,000 for "professional security services," according to tax documents filed with the IRS.

The filing showed that Patrisse Cullors, the organization's one-time executive director, paid the sum to Cullors Protection, a company owned by her brother Paul Cullors.

Paul Cullors is also a graffiti artist, according to an artist description on Crenshaw Dairy Mart — an artist collective co-founded by Patrisse Cullors. He was previously cited in the New York Magazine as BLM's head of security.

Shalomyah Bowers, the foundation's board secretary, told the Associated Press that Paul Cullors' company was hired because the group — which often protests against law-enforcement organizations — felt that its protection could not be entrusted to former police officers who typically run security firms.

According to the tax filing, the organization also paid more than $969,000 for live-event, design, and media production to Trap Heals LLC, a company founded by Damon Turner, who fathered a child with Patrisse Cullors.

According to an exclusive published by the AP in February last year, the BLM foundation received around $90 million in donations in 2020 alone. Several Black activists and supporters of the movement have called for more transparency on how the money received is being used.

The newly reported filing — which covers the period of July 1, 2020, to June 20, 2021 — was given exclusively to The AP and showed that the organization received a revenue of $79 million in that time. The documents also said that the foundation has $42 million in net assets.

The filing stated that BLM invested $32 million in stocks, which organizers told the AP would help to ensure that the foundation's work continues in the future.

Another $6 million was spent on a Studio City home in Los Angeles that was meant as a retreat for a Black artist fellowship. Organizers told the AP that the property — which has six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage, and office space — is still being used for that purpose.

BLM spent around $37.7 million in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021, including the payments to Trap Heals and Cullors Protection, per the tax filing.

The documents show that about $26 million was used on grants to organizations, local chapters, and families. This included grants of $2.3 million to the non-profit organization Living Through Giving Foundation, $1.4 million to The Michael O.D. Brown We Love Our Sons & Daughters Foundation, and $200,000 to the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

Patrisse Cullors, who stepped down as the foundation's executive director in May last year, did not take any financial compensation for her work in the organization, the filing showed.

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