Bishop’s standing on Nativity College’s BLM flag prompts a better take a look at group

Roberta Schaefer
 |  Telegram & Gazette

For several weeks, an ongoing dispute has continued between Bishop Robert McManus, head of the Worcester Diocese, and the board and administration of the Nativity School of Worcester, founded by Holy Cross College, regarding the school’s decision to fly the Black Lives Matter and Gay Pride flags.

The Bishop contends that the school cannot simultaneously be Catholic and subscribe to the policy positions of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) and LGBTQ+, the former of which (according to its 2013 Manifesto) include a  “commitment to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure,” concentrating leadership in women, queer, and transgender individuals, and promoting distrust of law enforcement as well as defunding the police, while the latter signifies the encouragement of homosexuality and transgenderism. Neither group’s positions, according to Bishop McManus, accord with Catholic social and moral teaching.

As a non-Catholic, I lack authority to engage in a dispute over Catholic theology. As a citizen, however, I am fully qualified to question the behavior of those responsible for running a tax-exempt, non-profit organization in a manner that violates American law, as the official Black Lives Matter organization does. The rules are simple and available through government pamphlets or through training by organizations like the Greater Worcester Community Foundation. Funds raised by a tax-exempt organization must be spent on the organization’s stated mission, and those in charge must be accountable to a board of directors.

As its recent 990 Tax Form (the first accounting it has issued in two years) indicates, as reported extensively in the New York Post, among other media outlets, the Black Lives Matter Global Foundation has repeatedly violated these rules.

Patrisse Cullors, the former executive director and co-founder of BLMGNF, was the only board member listed on the organization’s 2020 filing (and which did not appear until 2022).

According to Laurie Styron, executive director of Charity Watch, a non-profit that monitors charitable organizations, Black lives Matter had no whistle-blower policy and no document destruction and retention policy, as government regulations require. While BLM claims to have and regularly monitor and enforce a written conflict-of -interest policy, Styron observes, “one person can’t monitor and enforce a conflict-of-interest policy over themselves.”

According to its filing, Black Lives Matter made several payments which have all the appearance of conflicts of interest. The group paid $969,459 to Trap Heals LLC, owned by Damon Turner, for “live production, design, and media.” Turner is a rapper and artist and the father of Cullors’s young son. His company sells $145 sweatshirts online and solicits donations for “the movement.”

BLMGNF’s biggest payout of $2,167,894, went to Bowers Consulting Firm, owned by Cullors’s friend and successor on the board, Shalomyah Bowers, another possible conflict of interest according to charity experts. The money was used for, among other things, “administrative support, general consulting strategy, strategy design…and staff management under the direction of the executive director.”

The organization also paid $840,993 to Cullors Protection LLC, a company owned by Patrice Cullors’s oldest brother Paul, and established in July, 2020, to provide professional security services. There is no evidence that he had security experience before setting up this company. Paul is listed as head of security for Cullors’s personal property as well as the organization’s $6 million LA headquarters.

According to a spokesman for BLM interviewed on NPR, the headquarters is used as a “safe house” and a space for “black creators.”

BLMGNF also gave $8 million to an allied Canadian charity (run in part by Cullors’s life partner), which spent $6.3 million to purchase a downtown Toronto property. (Both non-profits insist that the luxury spaces are being used to “forward the cause” – whatever that cause may be.) Other firms that were among BLM’s “highest compensated independent contractors” included Washington, DC-based Dewey Square Group, which received $709,190 for “communications, IT, and digital,” Los Angeles-based Sadler Strategic Media, Inc., given $696,364 for “media planning and placement,” and Resistance Labs of Oakland, CA which received $504,000 for “tech support.”

These sums stand in stark contrast to the $200,000 BLMGNF gave to the Trayvon Martin Foundation established by Trayvon Martin’s parents to “provide emotional and financial support to families who lost a child to gun violence,” according to its website. (It was the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of the neighborhood watch member who claimed he shot the teen in self-defense that led to the birth of Black Lives Matter in 2013.) It seems, however, that the Trayvon Martin Foundation was at least treated better than other community organizations working in black neighborhoods. For instance, as the New York Post reported, Pastor Corey Brooks of New Beginnings Church of Chicago and founder and CEO of Project HOOD Communities Development Corporation reports having reached out several times for help from BLM without even receiving a response, let alone funding for his organization.

“We’ve never received a dime from Black Lives Matter,” he reported to the Post, “It’s unfortunate and very disheartening that they haven’t given to grassroots organizations serving the black communities.”

Patrice Cullors, who has described herself as a “trained Marxist” (whatever that might mean), used BLM money to book chartered flights throughout the pandemic. In addition, she collected $120,000 from the charity for undisclosed “consulting fees.” In the spring of 2021, Cullors bought four high-end homes across the country for $3.2 million. While she denied that the money for this real estate came from the charity, she resigned as the foundation’s executive director after the news of these purchases broke in May of last year. There is no indication to date that anyone has replaced her as director – nor any clear explanation of the use of these properties.

In sum: the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation has no executive director and only one board member. According to its recent IRS filing as reported in the Post, It raised $76.9 million and distributed $25.9 million in grants to other non-profits and to padding the payrolls of businesses owned by friends and relatives of the former director. It has no demonstrated record of accomplishments promoting the betterment of the lives of black people (aside from that director and her allies).

The policies it espouses – abolishing families, police, and prisons – are precisely the opposite of those that would benefit the vast majority of law-abiding African-American citizens whose interests it claims to represent. In these respects Cullors appears indeed to have emulated the behavior of the Marxist rulers she admires.

Given BLM’s prolific fundraising in what Cullors calls “white guilt” money, it should have tens of millions remaining, even after the expenditures listed above.. (The “white guilt” money, as reported in the Post, came from American corporations seeking through their donations to buy “woke” credibility, “plainly without worrying how much actual good the donations would do.”)

Who’s in charge of this largesse and what criteria will be used for distributing it seem to be open questions. In light of the foregoing evidence however, there is one question that deserves an answer: Does the distinguished board of the Nativity School of Worcester think that the Black Lives Matter organization should serve as a model for young, impressionable Nativity School students to emulate? I think not.

Roberta Schaefer is the founder and a former president of Worcester Regional Research Bureau.