Patrisse Cullors, the controversial co-founder of Black Lives Matter and former BLM Global Network Foundation leader, has admitted that she may not entirely have been on the up-and-up when she denied using the group’s $6 million Los Angeles mansion in ways that had nothing to do with “social justice.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Cullors conceded that she had twice used the mansion for personal recreation. BLM purchased the Studio City palace—which features six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, office space, and even a soundstage—in October of 2020, following the massive influx of funds that came in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the summer of “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.”
The first instance of recreational use of the property was in January 2021, according to the AP interview, when Cullors held a party there to celebrate the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Then, a few months later, she used it to host a birthday party for her son.
“I look back at that and think, that probably wasn’t the best idea,” Cullors said, reflecting on the decision to use the property for personal events. Matters weren’t improved when she released a statement denying that she had ever lived in the mansion or used it for personal gain.
Still, Cullors vehemently denies that BLM’s top brass ever misused the many millions in donations the organization received.
“On paper, it looks crazy,” she said, speaking of how the organization’s fortunes improved dramatically over the summer of 2020. “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.”
She also defended BLM’s decision to purchase the swanky LA mansion in late 2020.
“We really wanted to make sure that the global network foundation had an asset that wasn’t just financial resources,” she explained, “and we understood that not many black-led organizations have property. They don’t own their property.”
There’s no question that the acquisition of an expensive piece of property in Los Angeles doesn’t exactly look good for an organization ostensibly committed to social justice and standing up for the poor, the oppressed, and the unrepresented. Justin Hansford, director of Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, told the AP that it was purchases like this that could seriously wound the BLM movement, by causing possible donors to reconsider contributing to black-led organizations.
“That’s the thing that you don’t want to get out of hand,” he said.
But Cullors angrily denies she ever misused BLM monies or ever benefitted personally from her headship of the organization.
“The idea that [BLM] received millions of dollars and then I hid those dollars in my bank account is absolutely false,” she explained. “That’s a false narrative. It’s impacted me personally and professionally, that people would accuse me of stealing from black people.”
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