Last Updated on September 4, 2022
The new leader of the national Black Lives Matter non-profit “siphoned” more than $10 million in fees from donors and rerouted the funds to his consulting firm, a new lawsuit alleges. The accused leader, Shalomyah Bowers, has denied the allegations.
Bowers became the head of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation in April. The post was previously held by Los Angeles-based activist Patrisse Cullors, who resigned in November 2021. Cullors stepped down after it was revealed she had used BLM donations to buy a multi-million-dollar mansion.
Now, Shalomyah Bowers is accused of funneling BLM donations to his own Bowers Consulting Firm. The lawsuit also accuses him of directing funds to a new group called Black Lives Matter Grassroots, Inc.
BLM Grassroots was launched this past May, according to a report from the New York Post. It was founded in California by Walter Mosely, a lawyer who also drafted the lawsuit against Bowers, according to court papers The new group claims to represent BLM chapters across the country.
“Mr. Bowers decided he could not let go of his personal piggy bank,” BLM Grassroots charged in the lawsuit filed Thursday in the Los Angeles Superior Court. “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.”
BLM Global Network Foundation paid the Bowers Consulting Firm $2,167,894 in 2021, according to federal tax filings.
Bowers pushed back on the allegations in a statement to the New York Post, saying the situation is a power play on the part of disgruntled activists. “It’s a power move by someone hellbent on achieving power and control,” he said.
Bowers contends that a group of activists, headed by California State University Pan-African Studies professor Melina Abdullah, is trying to wrest power away from the foundation’s current board of directors.
Abdullah, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Los Angeles chapter. She — along with Patrisse Cullors and Marina Garza — bought a luxurious Southern California home for nearly $6 million using donation cash.
According to a report from New York Magazine, the trio filmed a video outside the “secretly bought” home on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death. Already reeling from the New York Post report, Cullors resigned after the mansion purchase was revealed.
Abdullah is described in court papers as having been “engaged in intuitive protest simultaneous to the online activism of the three co-founders” of BLM. It is unclear what “intuitive protest” means.
“It’s the most insane thing I’ve read in a court pleading, and it’s signed under penalty of perjury when they know it’s a lie,” Bowers said. In addition, Bowers said the foundation has undergone recent audits that did not find $10 million going to him or his firm.
“We are in the process of correcting things, of fixing things and dealing with disgruntled people who want to take over the group,” he said.
Bowers said the new board did not include Abdullah in the reorganization of the Foundation.