Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors is stepping down as executive director of the organization amid controversy over her $3 million property portfolio.
Cullors, who has been at the helm of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for nearly six years, announced the news on Thursday.
The 37-year-old activist told The Associated Press that she is leaving to focus on other projects, including the upcoming release of her second book and a multi-year TV development deal with Warner Bros.
‘I’ve created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave,’ Cullors stated. ‘It feels like the time is right.’
However, her departure comes after it was revealed last month that she has amassed a $3 million property portfolio, despite describing herself as a trained Marxist”.
Cullors faced fierce backlash over revelations about her personal spending – including the recent purchase of a $1.4 million home in a ritzy L.A. neighborhood.
It caused many to question what percentage of BLM donations were actually going towards social justice programs.
However, she insists her resignation has been in the works for more than a year and has nothing to do with the personal attacks she has faced.
‘Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don’t operate off of what the right thinks about me,’ Cullors told the Associated Press.
Last month, she described the criticism as ‘racist and sexist’ smears deliberately put out by the ‘right-wing media’.
But it wasn’t just conservatives who pressed Cullors over her finances.
The head of New York City’s BLM chapter called for an independent investigation into the organization’s finances after revelations about the property portfolio surfaced.
‘If you go around calling yourself a socialist, you have to ask how much of her own personal money is going to charitable causes,’ BLM organizer Hawk Newsome told The New York Post.
‘It’s really sad because it makes people doubt the validity of the movement and overlook the fact that it’s the people that carry this movement.’
Meanwhile, it was also revealed that a jail reform activist group founded by Cullors spent $26,000 for meetings and ‘appearances’ at a luxury Malibu resort.
Reform LA Jails paid $10,179 for ‘meetings and appearances’ at the Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club, and a further $15,593 at the Malibu Conference Center, which is owned by the resort, between July and September 2019.
A single night in a two-bedroom ‘cozy ranch chic’ suite in July costs $1,200, and guests at the 200-acre resort have access to a private five acre beach on the Malibu coast.
After the spending was revealed by the Daily Caller, former Fox host Megyn Kelly Tweeted: ‘BLM must stand for… Babes Lounging in Malibu? Big Loads of Money? Blatant Lies about Marxism?’
The BLM foundation revealed in February that it took in just over $90 million last year, following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, a black man whose death had the hands of a white police officer inspired global protests.
The foundation said it ended 2020 with a balance of more than $60 million, after spending nearly a quarter of its assets on operating expenses, grants to black-led organizations and other charitable giving.
Critics of the foundation contend more of that money should have gone to the families of black victims of police brutality who have been unable to access the resources needed to deal with their trauma and loss.
Cullors and the foundation have said they do support families without making public announcements or disclosing dollar amounts.