Lawsuit accuses Black Lives Matter leader of siphoning $10 million from group

Allegations claim administrator used organization as "personal piggy bank."

Updated: September 3, 2022 - 6:54am

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A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles this week claims that an upper-level administrator for Black Lives Matter has siphoned off upwards of $10 million from the group for his own personal finances, allegations the group itself is vehemently denying. 

Melina Abdullah, who founded the Los Angeles chapter of BLM and who manages some of the group's grassroots efforts, said in a filing in Los Angeles Superior Court that Shalomyah Bowers, the board secretary of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, has used BLM as his "personal piggy bank" and has "betray[ed] the public trust by self-dealing and breaching his fiduciary duties."

The suit claims that Bowers managed to run "well-respected advocates out of the organization" and further "managed to steal control over GNF as the sole Board member and officer."

In a statement posted to the BLM website, the group accused Abdullah of "tak[ing] issue with the decision-making coming from BLMGNF leadership."

The group offered lengthy responses to Abdullah's claims and argued its leadership has been "consistent and truthful" in its dealings. 

"We as Black people and Black-led organizations cannot continue spending all of our precious time and energy fighting and tearing each other down," they wrote. "That is using the oppressor’s tools."

Black Lives Matter has come under significant scrutiny since its meteoric rise to cultural dominance in 2020, when the murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd ignited widespread pro-black activism across the country and the world and sent millions of dollars pouring into BLM's coffers. 

The group's use of those funds has come into question, with the organization at one time reportedly commanding $100 million but distributing it in ways that were unclear. 

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