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Black Lives Matter transferred millions of dollars to a Canadian charity run by the wife of co-founder Patrisse Cullors, according to a report, which was used to buy a $6.3 million Toronto mansion to house an arts center.
News of the transfer of money to the Canadian group has raised further questions about transparency and accountability within Black Lives Matter – coming days after auditors said an inquiry into the handling of BLM’s $60 million war chest was necessary, and less than a year after Cullors was forced to stand down amid questions about her own property empire.
BLM Canada announced in July 2021 that they had recently purchased a three story Victorian mansion in the Baldwin Village area of Toronto, close to downtown. The imposing red brick house was previously the headquarters of the Communist Party.
On Saturday, The New York Post reported that the funds to purchase the property came from Black Lives Matter, and were transferred from the global network to M4BJ – a Toronto-based non-profit set up by Janaya Khan and other Canadian activists.
Khan is the spouse of BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors.
The Victorian red brick mansion, which was previously home to the Communist Party, was bought by BLM over the summer and is being turned in to the Wildseed arts center
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of BLM (left) is married to Janaya Khan (right), a Canadian activist. Khan was reportedly transferred the cash from BLM to buy the Toronto mansion used to house the arts center
Khan, born in Toronto, is described on a speakers’ website as ‘a black, queer, gender-nonconforming activist (pronouns: they, them, theirs), staunch Afrofuturist and social-justice educator who presents an enlightening point of view on police brutality and systemic racism.’
Khan is one of Canada’s most high-profile activists
Khan and Cullors married in 2016, and have two children.
Cullors stepped down as executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network in May 2021, amid scrutiny of her $3.2 million property empire.
It was unclear whether the money was transferred from BLMGN to M4BJ before or after Cullors stepped down, and why the money went to M4BJ rather than directly to BLM’s Canada affiliate.
Neither BLM Canada nor Khan have responded to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The property, at 24 Cecil Street, is home to the Wildseed Centre for Art and Activism.
Khan is not listed among the executive team or staff of the site.
Wildseed describes itself as ‘a vessel that seeks to nurture Black radical creation in Canada.’
The website states: ‘Wildseed was birthed by Black Lives Matter activists who recognized the need to build an enduring space that could cultivate the most radical ideas from Toronto’s diverse Black communities.
‘Through opportunities for space booking, collaborations and art fellowships, our hope is that Wildseed will be the kind of space that our hope is that it will be the kind of space that we wished we had when we began the agitations that so fundamentally shifted this city.’
Khan founded the M4BJ charity, which purchased the house used to create the arts center
The city of Toronto has provided the Wildseed Centre with $250,000 CAN ($195,000) for capital upgrades, said Councillor Mike Layton, who represents the district in which the mansion sits.
Sandy Hudson, the co-founder of BLM Canada, told CBC News in the summer that the center was vital for their work.
‘Having a space like this that has a level of permanence, that is large, that allows for different types of organizations to come together and create community. It’s going to be a really, really big shift for Black Canada and Black Toronto,’ she said.
Yet the news of the financing for the center comes at a difficult time for BLM.
Last week, charity auditors expressed alarm at the management of Black Lives Matter‘s $60 million in donations, after it emerged that people announced as leading the organization never took up the role, and no one seemed able to say who was handling the finances.
The most recent tax filing for the charity, from 2019, gives an address in Los Angeles that does not exist, and the two remaining BLM directors identified by The Washington Examiner were not able to assist – with one even scrubbing BLM associations from his social media after he was contacted by the paper.
They are yet to file a 2020 return, a Form 990, as required – which could see BLM fined by the IRS.
Laurie Styron, executive director of CharityWatch, said the findings were deeply troubling, and said they should have filed their 2020 form by now.
‘Like a giant ghost ship full of treasure drifting in the night with no captain, no discernible crew, and no clear direction,’ she said.
Paul Kamenar, counsel for conservative watchdog group the National Legal and Policy Center, told the paper a full audit was needed, describing the situation as ‘grossly irregular’.
Cullors (pictured) co-founded BLM in July 2013 with Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza. She left the group in May 2021
Cullors, Garza and Tometi (left to right) co-founded the group, but Garza and Tometi left, leaving Cullors in charge as executive director
Black Lives Matter has grown into a global organization. Protesters are seen in Leeds, England, on June 21, 2020
BLM protesters are pictured in Columbus, Ohio, in April 2021
Cullors co-founded BLM in July 2013, after a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Alicia Garza, an Oakland activist, posted what she called a love letter to black people on Facebook, writing, ‘Our lives matter.’
Cullors, a friend of Garza, replied with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
New York activist Opal Tometi then used the words while building a digital network of community organizers and antiracism activists.
Garza and Tometi are no longer affiliated with the network, and Cullors was its figurehead and leader throughout the George Floyd protests – which saw huge donations flood in.
The organization’s finances had been managed by a group called Thousand Currents, which says it has a ‘mission of supporting grassroots movements pushing for a more just and equitable world.’
In the summer of 2020, leaders sought nonprofit status with the IRS, which was granted in December 2020 – allowing the organization to receive tax-deductible donations directly.
Cullors is seen in 2015 speaking at Harvard Law School
BLM protesters are seen in August 2020 in Portland, Oregon
The designation requires the foundation to file public 990 forms, revealing details of its organizational structure, employee compensation, programming and expenses.
In September 2020, Cullors signed documents with Thousand Currents transferring $66.5 million into BLM’s accounts.
In February 2021, Black Lives Matter confirmed it took in $90 million throughout 2020, distributed to their partner organizations, and had $60 million remaining in its accounts.
In its report, a snapshot of which was shared with AP, the BLM foundation said individual donations via its main fundraising platform averaged at $30.76 each.
More than 10 percent of the donations were recurring.
The report does not state who gave the money in 2020, and leaders declined to name prominent donors.
Expenses were approximately $8.4 million — that includes staffing, operating and administrative costs, along with activities such as civic engagement, rapid response and crisis intervention.
BLM said at the time that they were sharing the details in a bid to be more transparent – admitting that their structure and finances had previously been opaque.
But two months later, in April 2021, reports began emerging – provided by the National Legal and Policy Center – which showed Cullors had amassed a $3.2 million property empire.
Cullors bought this house in South Los Angeles – one of four she owns
The activist also bought a home in Conyers, Georgia
Cullors now owns three properties in Los Angeles – including this one in the hills above the city
Cullors owned four properties – three in the Los Angeles area and one outside of Atlanta – the researchers found.
Many within BLM turned against Cullors, questioning where she had accumulated the money. Cullors has written two books, has a deal with YouTube, and signed a production deal with Warner Bros. in 2020 to develop programming ‘for children, young adults and families.’
However, amid the furor she stood down and announced that two people were taking over as executive directors – Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele.
Yet Themba and Bandele in September said that they had never taken up the roles, following disagreements with leadership.
‘Although a media advisory was released indicating that we were tapped to play the role of senior co-executives at BLMGN, we were not able to come to an agreement with the acting Leadership Council about our scope of work and authority,’ they said in a statement.
‘As a result, we did not have the opportunity to serve in this capacity.’
Themba and Bandele said they did not know who was now running BLM, as their discussions never progressed.
Makani Themba (left) and Monifa Bandele were announced as directors of BLM in May 2021, but never agreed terms and never took the job
BLM protesters tussle with police in Washington DC during the RNC in August 2020
Two other people remained on the board, after Cullors’ departure – Shalomyah Bowers and Raymond Howard, according to undated documents obtained by The Washington Examiner.
Bowers served as the treasurer for multiple activist organizations run by Cullors, The Washington Examiner reported, including BLM PAC and a Los Angeles-based jail reform group that paid Cullors $20,000 a month and spent nearly $26,000 on ‘meetings’ at a luxury Malibu beach resort in 2019.
Bowers has not commented on the current status of the $60 million in the BLM coffers.
Howard also refused to comment when asked by the paper, and has since updated his LinkedIn page to remove references to his work with ‘an international social justice organization’.
Tax returns filed by BLMGN in 2019 give an address in Los Angeles that does not exist; when a reporter with The Washington Examiner went to a similar address, and same zip code, a security guard said that many people make the mistake but there was no BLM presence in the building.
An unnamed BLM spokesman told the paper by email: ‘In response to your request for a copy of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s 2020 Form 990, we wish to inform you that at this time we do not maintain a permanent office.’
Kamenar said his watchdog group believes there should be a ‘full audit’ of BLM.
‘Bottom line: Lot of questionable financial activity, organizational structure, location of the books, etc. that call for a full investigation,’ Kamenar said.
BLM are yet to respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
Source: Daily Mail