WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Several companies and donors have mistakenly raised over $4 million for the Black Lives Matter Foundation, a nonprofit that is not in any way associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.
- While the BLM movement aims to defund the police, the foundation aims to unite the community and the police.
- The donated funds are now on hold while the fundraising companies redirect the funds to the BLM movement and other social justice causes.
People all over the world have shown their support for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in the only way they knew how — financially. However, some donations have been sent to an entirely unaffiliated but similarly-named nonprofit, the Black Lives Matter Foundation.
BuzzFeed News reported that the organization received over $4 million in donations — including those from large companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
The managing director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, Kailee Scales, informed PEOPLE: “The ‘Black Lives Matter Foundation’ is indeed a completely separate organization with no affiliation with Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.”
Scales added that the California Attorney General’s office has ordered a cease-and-desist from fundraising for using the BLM name improperly.
“We intend to follow up to ensure that donors and members of the public who intend to support our organization are not misled,” Scales continued.
Robert Ray Barnes launched the foundation in Santa Clarita, California in 2015. Their mission is to “help heal the brutality and hostility that some policemen harbor towards members of the community and somehow bring an end to the attacks being perpetrated against the police by some rogue members of the community.”
Barnes, a 67-year-old Black music producer, launched the nonprofit after his wife’s former husband, Earl B. Rhodes, Jr., was shot and killed by Los Angeles Police Department officers in 2011.
Barnes had told BuzzFeed, “We don’t want to be enemies of the police. We will let the movement do that. We want to get to the point where we have programs and that’s where the change will happen. That’s where we come in.”
The Black Lives Matter movement, meanwhile, began as a hashtag in 2013 following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer. It currently advocates for the national defunding of police.
Barnes acknowledged that his foundation is entirely unaffiliated with the movement, but argued that he is not using the name “improperly” and that there is no scamming involved.
However, several companies and donors have mistakenly raised over $4 million for the foundation believing it was the movement.
Most of the donations were made through the fundraising platforms Benevity and GoFundMe. The funds are now on hold while the companies redirect the funds to the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice causes.
Barnes acknowledged that he has not yet launched any programs in his charity’s five years of existence, explaining that he’s still counting on more funds to start launching and maintaining concrete programs.
Barnes said that he has since donated to churches, a veterans’ foundation, and scholarship funds.