Blacks Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors Admits to Using BLM Mansion for Personal Use

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Image: Paul Morigi/Getty Images.

Patrisse Cullors, who co-founded Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Ayọ Tometi, has admitted to using donations to purchase a $6 million Los Angeles mansion and used it for personal parties.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Cullors spoke about the compound in Studio City, a home with six bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, a soundstage, and office space, that was meant to be both a “meeting venue and a campus for Black artists.” 

When details of the purchase went public, the move was criticized by BLM supporters like Justin Hansford, director of the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard University. He argued that the property could lead donors to lose trust and shy away from helping Black-led social justice organizations.

“That’s the thing that you don’t want to get out of hand,” he said.

“We really wanted to make sure that the global network foundation had an asset that wasn’t just financial resources,” Cullors said in response, “and we understood that not many Black-led organizations have property. They don’t own their property.”

Although the compound was purchased as an asset for the organization, Cullors also admitted to using the property for personal parties at least two times.

On one occasion, she hosted a gathering of 15 people to celebrate the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. 

In March 2021, Cullors held a private birthday party for her son at the property and insisted on paying a rental fee to the foundation.

“I look back at that and think, that probably wasn’t the best idea,” she said in regards to her use of the property.

Outside of hosting private events on the compound, she vehemently denied benefiting financially from the work of the foundation.

“The idea that [the foundation] received millions of dollars and then I hid those dollars in my bank account is absolutely false,” she said. “That’s a false narrative. It’s impacted me personally and professionally, that people would accuse me of stealing from Black people.”

Garza, who left the BLM organization in 2015, noted the importance of transparency.

“I think it is important to be transparent about what is actually happening,” Garza said. “And my assessment is that because there was a lack of response [to public questions], specifically from the global network foundation, it allowed for people to fill in the blanks.”

“If there is impropriety [in the foundation], we should talk about it,” she added. “ I don’t think we should sweep that under the rug, but we haven’t established that.”

Last year, Cullors resigned from her post as the director of the foundation to focus on personal projects which she already planned and was denies being involved with any alleged improprieties.

Since her departure, the BLM foundation hasn’t hired new leadership or publicly discussed plans for the money that it has raised.

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