Despite allegations of financial improprieties, Patrisse Cullors, former leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, insists neither she nor anyone else in leadership misused millions of dollars in donations, the Associated Press reports. In an interview, Cullors acknowledged that BLM was ill-prepared to handle a tidal wave of contributions in the aftermath of protests over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020. She said the foundation was slow to build the necessary groundwork. “On paper, it looks crazy,” Cullors said. “We use this term in our movement a lot, which is we’re building the plane while flying it. I don’t believe in that anymore. The only regret I have with BLM is wishing that we could have paused for one to two years, to just not do any work and just focus on the infrastructure.”
Recent disclosures that the foundation had paid $6 million for a Los Angeles compound in 2020 unleashed a torrent of criticism and social media chatter. The property in Studio City -- including a home with six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage and office space -- is meant to be both a meeting venue and a campus for Black artists. Just over a year ago, the foundation announced a $90 million fundraising haul. That announcement drew sharp criticisms over access to donor funds, as well as broader calls for openness from activists in several local BLM chapters and from the families of police brutality victims who had rallied to the movement. Cullors acknowledged that a lack of transparency about the foundation’s board and staffing drove perceptions that things were amiss. She resigned as foundation director to work on personal projects -- a departure that had long been planned, and was unconnected with any alleged improprieties, she said. In the year since her resignation, the BLM foundation hasn’t hired new leadership or publicly discussed plans for money still sitting in its coffers.