LOS ANGELES — The leader of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has been accused by former colleagues of stealing more than $10 million in donations from the organization for his own personal use, according to a lawsuit filed in court this week.
Shalomyah Bowers was called out in the court filing as a “rogue administrator, a middle man turned usurper” who syphoned contributions to the nonprofit activist group to use as his own “personal piggy bank,” according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday.
“His actions have lead (sic) (Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation) into multiple investigations by the Internal Revenue Service and various state attorney generals, blazing a path of irreparable harm to BLM in less than eighteen months,” the suit claims. “While BLM leaders and movement workers were on the street risking their lives, Mr. Bowers remained in his cushy offices devising a scheme of fraud and misrepresentation to break the implied-in-fact contract between donors and BLM.”
The suit, filed by Black Lives Matter Grassroots, alleged the theft of funds, but also discussed how Bowers was left with sole control of the organization with little oversight.
Bowers and his group denied all of the claims of financial misconduct and chastised those suing him for “falling victim to the carceral logic and social violence that fuels the legal system” in taking legal action against him.
“They would rather take the same steps of our white oppressors and utilize the criminal legal system which is propped up by white supremacy (the same system they say they want to dismantle) to solve movement disputes,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation’s board of directors said in a joint statement.
Bowers is one of three members of the board. He was hired by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors in 2020 to help raise and distribute money to groups within the foundation.
The suit alleges that he gave grants to his own consultant firm, charging exorbitant fees reaching eight figures.
The Daily Press reports that “The lawsuit demands that they return the people’s funds and stop impersonating Black Lives Matter.”
The lawsuit was announced at a news conference Thursday hosted by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles co-founder Melina Abdullah, who said that, in March, Bowers shut her and other leaders out of the BLM social media accounts by changing the passwords.
Black Lives Matter has come under a fiscal microscope since 2020, when the group received $90 million in donations amid protests following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota.
The organization filed its first public IRS 990 tax form in 2022 and was criticized by some for buying a $6 million Studio City compound as well as a multi-million dollar mansion in Canada.