Black Lives Matter
The phrase “Black Lives Matter” has entered the lexicon as a grassroots movement for a number of reforms—but there’s a difference between supporting the premise that “Black Lives Matter” and the official Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization. All people should believe that black lives matter, but the official BLM organization is being hijacked by operatives with a radical agenda.
The Black Lives Matter organization was formed in 2013, immediately following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, controversially claiming self-defense. BLM grew following the Michael Brown shooting in 2014. Since its inception, BLM has grown into a global organization with chapters located throughout the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. BLM’s central message is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
Who Funds Black Lives Matter?
The group called “Black Lives Matter” is sponsored by a separate 501(c)(3) organization, but the overall movement has a number of other groups associated with it. In total, they have taken in over $133 million since 2013, including at least $33 million from organizations associated with billionaire donor George Soros, who finances a collection of far-left groups.
Partners of BLM, such as The Movement for Black Lives, push a much broader agenda. Its policy platforms include reparations and defunding the police. Their proposed reparations include access for all Black people to free higher education and open admissions to all public universities and colleges, technical educations, and educational support programs. Its Defund the Police campaign calls for withdrawing police departments from state and federal grant programs that provide surveillance tech and training, and removing police from schools and universities–a controversial demand given recent high-profile shootings at schools.
Other organizations in the BLM network include Black Youth Project 100. Its “Agenda to Build Black Futures” features many radical proposals. Under their “Workers’ Bill of Rights” all people, regardless of employment status, would be eligible to receive a guaranteed living income. It also states “All children, regardless of the financial status the child was born into, should receive a Child Development Account or ‘baby bond.’”
After prominent instances of African Americans dying at the hands of the police, BLM organizers gather large groups of protesters across the nation; the most recent protests in 2020 extended globally. These demonstrations often last weeks and sometimes morph into riots that loot businesses and burn down buildings. (See our profile on Antifa, a known instigator of rioting.)
Some supporters of BLM’s central message oppose some of its more aggressive tactics. Barbara Reynolds, a 1960’s civil rights activist has said to “fundamentally disagree with their approach” saying, “confrontational and divisive tactics” making it “difficult to distinguish legitimate activists from the mod actors who burn and loot.” Additionally, Reynolds has pointed out that BLM’s immediate negativity toward anyone who utters the words “all lives matter” shuts out potential supporters. She argues that in order to “appeal to a broader group, they must work harder to acknowledge the humanity in the lives of others.”
After the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, officers across the country felt the “Ferguson Effect.” The “Ferguson Effect” refers to the anti-police environment that erupted across the nation immediately following the weeks of riots. After surveying 8,000 officers across the United States, Pew Research Center released a study revealing 72 percent of officers had become more reluctant to stop and question suspicious persons.
Following the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, BLM’s message has morphed into promoting defunding the police altogether and doing whatever necessary to make your voice heard—even invoking violence. New York Black Lives Matter President, Hawk Newsome, recently joined Fox News for an interview saying, “If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking … figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation.”
Sadly, much of the rioting and looting has happened in minority communities and minority business owners have had their stores and livelihoods destroyed.
Local Chapters Revolt
In November 2020, ten local chapters including Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C., wrote a letter accusing the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN) of being undemocratic and failing to provide financial transparency. This lack of transparency should not have been surprising considering the financial end of the operation was run by the Tides Center.
The Tides Center, which is an offshoot of the Tides Foundation, is a charitable organization that runs more like a money-laundering operation than a transparent benefactor. (Read our profile on the Tides Center here.) The Tides Center took over the financial end of BLMGN in July 2020 after the previous financial backer, Thousand Currents, drew skepticism from donors for allowing Susan Rosenberg, a convicted domestic terrorist who was charged for her role in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Capitol, to manage the finances.
In their letter, the local chapters claimed that the BLMGN — which is the international face of the organization — had failed to provide them with financial support and that they had changed the structure and leadership of the organization without consulting the local chapters. Their concerns echoed the findings of a report from the Daily Caller News Foundation that revealed that BLMGN had spent $4.5 million on consultants, travel, and staff compensation while dispersing just $328,000 to autonomous local BLM chapters. The local chapters confirmed there was “little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013” in their letter.
“For years there has been inquiry regarding the financial operations of BLMGN and no acceptable process of either public or internal transparency about the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGN, which has certainly increased during this time of pandemic and rebellion,” the local chapters wrote.
They asked supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement to stop supporting BLMGN and start donating directly to local chapters if they want to know that their money was spent on grassroots activism, rather than consultants or travel.
Apparently, transparency doesn’t matter to the Black Lives Matter Global Network.