Millions of dollars have been mistakenly raised for a Black Lives Matter organization that is not at all associated with the mainstream anti-police movement, a report published by BuzzFeed News claimed Monday.
According to the outlet’s estimations, The Black Lives Matter Foundation raised at least $4.35 million in the first weeks of June, “though the bulk of that was frozen before it could be disbursed.”
The foundation is a Santa Clarita, California–based charitable organization “that has one paid employee and lists a UPS store as its address,” BuzzFeed reports. The founder, Robert Ray Barnes, is a 67-year-old L.A.-based music producer.
The Black Lives Matter Foundation, unlike the mainstream Black Lives Matter movement (The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc.), has the express goal of “bringing the community and police closer together.”
“I don’t have anything to do with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. I never met them; never spoke to them. I don’t know them; I have no relationship with them,” Barnes, who is black, told BuzzFeed. “Our whole thing is having unity with the police department.”
In the “What We Believe” section of the official Black Lives Matter site, the organization calls for the “national defunding of police” and for the “disruption” of the nuclear family, a far different agenda than that promoted by Barnes’ foundation.
According to BuzzFeed, GoFundMe froze Barnes’ donations after the news outlet reached out to the crowdfunding platform:
Based on estimates from BuzzFeed News, donors raised at least $4.35 million for the Black Lives Matter Foundation in the first weeks of June, though the bulk of that was frozen before it could be disbursed. In some cases, companies including GoFundMe were unaware the foundation had no affiliation with the wider movement and froze funds only after being contacted by BuzzFeed News.
“The Santa Clarita group is improperly using our name,” a spokesperson for the mainstream Black Lives Matter movement told BuzzFeed. “We intend to call them out and follow up.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the international Black Lives Matter movement, known as The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc., “is fiscally sponsored by the nonprofit Thousand Currents.”
“That means Thousand Currents is handling Black Lives Matter’s finances as the organization seeks its own tax-exempt status,” the outlet explains. “The Internal Revenue Service stipulates that 501(c)(3) organizations are ‘absolutely prohibited’ from making contributions to political campaigns, which would apply to Thousand Currents.”
Still, where the movement is funneling its cash is not totally transparent, leaving many asking questions.
Another cop-critical charitable organization that has come under scrutiny for its use of donations is the celebrity-touted Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), which posted a message online Monday after facing intense backlash over the bail-out charity’s allocation of funds. According to MFF’s website, the organization has brought in over $30 million in donations since the death of George Floyd, yet only “well over” $200,000 in donations — less than 1% of their funds — have actually been used to bail out protesters and rioters.
“Appreciate all those calling for transparency,” the fund posted online Monday. “We see y’all. Our values and mission have not changed since 2016. Be on the lookout for things coming on our end. Be well.”
A follow-up tweet read: “Without jeopardizing the safety of the folks we bailed out we paid well over $200k in the weeks since the uprising alone. We are working on doing more.”
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