The new leader of the national Black Lives Matter movement has been accused of stealing more than $10 million from donors, according to a lawsuit filed by other organizers.
Shalomyah Bowers, a board member of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, became head of the foundation in April.
He has been accused of paying his own Bowers Consulting Firm, and diverting resources from a new group called Black Lives Matter Grassroots, Inc.
BLM Grassroots was launched three months ago and claimed Bowers used BLMGNF as a “personal piggy bank.”
“Mr. Bowers decided he could not let go of his personal piggy bank,” the group said in the lawsuit filed Thursday in the Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Instead, he continued to betray the public trust by self-dealing and breaching his fiduciary duties,” they added.
“Instead of using the donations for its intended purposes, Mr. Bowers diverted these donations to his own coffers and intentionally took calculated steps to prevent those same resources from being used by BLM for on-the-ground-movement work,” the lawsuit continued.
According to federal tax filings, BLMGNF paid the Bowers Consulting Firm $2,167,894 in 2021.
The organization called Bowers a “rogue administrator, a middle man turned usurper,” and said he “remained in his cushy offices devising a scheme of fraud and misrepresentation to break the implied-in-fact contract between donors and BLM.”
BLM has repeatedly been under fire for the way it uses donations, failure to disclose financial details, and various purchases.
In April, it was revealed that the organization had purchased a Southern California home for nearly $6 million using donations.
The purchase was never reported by BLM and officials tried to keep it a secret. Bowers told New York Magazine that the residence served as “housing and studio space.”
In May, BLM was exposed for giving nearly $4 million in consulting payments to its board secretary, co-founder Patrisse Cullors’ brother, and the father of Cullors’ child. $2.1 million was paid to Bowers Consulting.
Bowers has dismissed the lawsuit, telling the New York Post that “it’s a power move by someone hellbent on achieving power and control.”
“It’s the most insane thing I’ve read in a court pleading, and it’s signed under penalty of perjury when they know it’s a lie,” he said.
He also noted that the Foundation has undergone audits that do not show $10 million going to him or his firm.
“We are in the process of correcting things, of fixing things and dealing with disgruntled people who want to take over the group,” Bowers added.
Bowers came into his position after Cullors resigned in May 2021 amid scrutiny of her personal real estate purchases.