Former Black Lives Matter leader Patrisse Cullors repeatedly denied accusations that BLM donations were used to purchase real estate but New York Magazine investigative journalist Sean Campbell has reported that BLM did indeed buy a $6 million house in California.
Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Melina Abdullah founded the Black activist group in July 2013. In a video from June 2021 which has since been made private, the three founders sat outside the “secretly bought” home while marking the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, New York magazine reported. Protests organized by BLM following the police killing of Floyd on May 25, 2020, brought BLM worldwide recognition and a flood of donations reported to be in the vicinity of $90 million.
In the video, Cullors and her colleagues didn’t reveal any details about the upscale home they were in. The home is 6,500 square feet with more than six bedrooms and bathrooms, fireplaces, a pool, and parking for more than 20 cars, according to a real estate listing cited by New York Magazine.
The residence was purchased in October 2020 by a man named Dyane Pascall two weeks after BLM received $66.5 million from a fiscal sponsor, The New York Post reported. Pascall is the financial manager for Janaya and Patrisse Consulting, which is an LLC operated by Cullors and her spouse, Janaya Khan.
Ownership of the lavish home was transferred within a week to an LLC in Delaware, ensuring the property’s owner wouldn’t be disclosed, according to the New York Magazine report.
The residence was purchased with the intention for it to serve as “housing and studio space” for recipients of the Black Joy Creators Fellowship, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) board member Shalomyah Bowers told the magazine in a statement. The fellowship is a BLM creative fellowship program. The house was to be used as a space where Black creatives could create, Bowers explained. Bowers also said the foundation had “always planned” to disclose the home’s legal filings in May 2022, and it doesn’t serve as anyone’s personal residence.
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Garza and Abdullah parted ways with the organization long before there were questions about BLM finances, and in May 2021 Cullors resigned as BLM’s executive director amid accusations of financial misappropriation.
BLMGNF was awarded tax-exempt status from the IRS in December 2020, two months after the $6 million house purchase.
The group informally released a batch of financial information in February 2021. It said it had taken in more than $90 million in 2020 and still had $60 million on hand. The house was not mentioned in the information.
Photo: Patrisse Cullors participates in the “Finding Justice” panel during the BET presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington on Feb. 11, 2019, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)/Photo: In this aerial photo provided by the Santa Cruz Police Department is a Black Lives Matter Mural painted on a street that was vandalized in Santa Cruz, Calif., on July 24, 2021. (Santa Cruz Police Department via AP)