For the last few weeks, we’ve seen companies raise millions in the name of Black Lives Matter.
Well, a bunch of people — including employees from billion dollar companies — didn’t do proper research and ended up donating millions of dollars to The Black Lives Matter Foundation.
The Black Lives Matter Foundation has no affiliation with the Black Lives Matter organization.
The Black Lives Matter Foundation is a Santa Clarita, California–based charitable organization that has one paid employee and lists a UPS store as its address. It’s one goal is “bringing the community and police closer together.”
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, corporations including Apple, Google, and Microsoft raised $4 million for the soundalike foundation — and almost delivered the money. Hundreds of grassroots fundraisers also directed more money and attention.
“I don’t have anything to do with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. I never met them; never spoke to them. I don’t know them; I have no relationship with them,” Robert Ray Barnes, the founder of the Black Lives Matter Foundation, told BuzzFeed News in a lengthy interview. “Our whole thing is having unity with the police department.”
While Black Lives Matter has morphed from a 2013 hashtag following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer into an international movement, its early lack of centralized leadership or formal hierarchy left opportunities for copycats like Barnes’ foundation. Based on estimates from BuzzFeed News, donors raised at least $4.35 million for the Black Lives Matter Foundation in the first weeks of June, though the bulk of that was frozen before it could be disbursed.
In some cases, companies including GoFundMe were unaware the foundation had no affiliation with the wider movement and froze funds only after being contacted by BuzzFeed News.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Black Lives Matter spokesperson confirmed that the groups are indeed “two completely separate organizations” and that Barnes’ foundation “has nothing to do with us.”
“The Santa Clarita group is improperly using our name,” the spokesperson said. “We intend to call them out and follow up.”
You can read the rest of Buzzfeed’s report here.
On a related note, we’re still wondering exactly how the millions raised by Black Lives Matter will be spent.