Michael Brown Sr., whose son was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, recently sat down with leaders from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation after demanding the organization allocate $20 million to activists in the St. Louis area.
According to a statement from the Michael Brown Chosen For Change Foundation (CFC) issued earlier this week, “President Michael Brown and Secretary Calvina Brown of CFC met with Black Lives Matter (BLM) leadership including BLM Global Network Foundation Executive Director Patrisse Cullors and BLM-Los Angeles Chair Melina Abdullah.”
“Both foundations mutually agreed to meet, in person for the first time, with hopes to initiate a relationship, reconcile any misunderstandings, and resolve any issues,” the statement continued.
The groups met on March 13 after a news report revealed BLM’s foundation had raised more than $90 million last year. A St. Louis-area activist coalition called the International Black Freedom Alliance (IBFA) had released a video demanding financial support, claiming BLM “has forgotten about Ferguson,” “thousands of protesters,” and the “freedom fighters” associated with the 2014 uprisings that brought global attention to the BLM movement. Black liberation organizer Tory Russell vowed to “hold Black Lives Matter accountable” while standing beside Brown Sr., who remained silent during the message.
Today our co-founder, #Ferguson frontline organizer @VanguardTNT alongside #MikeBrown's father demands 20 million from #BlackLivesMatter in order to continue the work they and other have been doing since the uprising since 2014. pic.twitter.com/4rDA28ZKnB
— TheIBFA (@THEIBFA) March 2, 2021
“We ask that Black Lives Matter leadership fund $20 million for Ferguson organizers, organizations, and community foundations to do the work,” Russell said. “We’re not begging for a handout. We’re coming for what we deserve.”
An IBFA statement that accompanied the video said Brown Sr. had questioned whether BLM ethically manages its donations and went on to accuse BLM of abandoning the families of incarcerated “political prisoners from the Ferguson movement.”
On Monday, CFC leaders announced that Brown Sr. had met with the Los Angeles-based BLM leaders to engage in constructive dialogue and presented their version of the conversation.
“At this time, there is no financial relationship or agreement between BLM and CFC,” the CFC press release said. “As we continue to develop a working relationship with each other, we will continue to focus on fighting for justice for Mike Brown Jr. and support families impacted by community & police violence. The Chosen for Change Foundation is ready to take part in mending any gaps between grassroots organizations and impacted families to ensure that our Black Lives can heal from tragedies so that we can heal our families and communities.”
Here is the official statement on behalf of our Foundation following our most recent meeting, last Saturday, with the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. We will not be accepting interviews at this time.
Please forward any inquiries to ChosenForChangeFund@gmail.com. pic.twitter.com/NhnnmBeAyV
— Michael Brown Foundation /DBA/ Chosen For Change (@CFCFund) March 22, 2021
More from the Michael Brown Chosen for Change Foundation:
BLM informed CFC that the focus of BLM will always be to end violence against black people, dismantle white supremacy, and fight for a future where black people are liberated from state sanctioned violence. BLM shared their goals and strategies to build a coalition of organizations across the globe.
CFC shared their experiences from the past six years. When a family loses a loved one to violence, that family attempts to develop new ways to live life without their loved one. The concepts of “normal” and “healing” may become elusive. For the few families whose loved ones’ deaths actually receive media attention, those families are forcibly ushered into a movement that they may or may not have been involved in previously.
While some families appreciate community leaders who have taken up the baton to organize, advocate, and fund the movement to bring awareness of their loved ones’ deaths, some may not. Many families are still seeking justice. Many families have been left alone to fight against the same systems that killed their loved ones.
The goals of impacted families may or may not always align with the goals of a movement or of a foundation. BLM appreciated the honesty in helping them understand why impacted communities and families are confused about the distribution of funding. Executive Director Cullors shared all of the ways that BLM has supported impacted families in the past and how they will continue to develop relationships and ways to support impacted families.
After the IBFA and Brown Sr. released the video, Cullors took to social media to express her general displeasure with recent allegations levied against the foundation she leads. While she did not mention anyone specifically, Cullors accused some of her critics in the black community of amplifying “right-wing propaganda about BLM.”
“So much of what you all see is a sliver of what’s happening behind the scenes,” Cullors posted on Instagram. “I will continue to fight for Black lives even when Black people treat me like dirt. That work is bigger than me and us.”
Black liberation activists have had questions about BLM’s fundraising long before learning the foundation took in just over $90 million in 2020. In December, some local BLM chapters that had been affiliated with the BLM Global Network penned an open letter announcing they had discontinued their involvement with the foundation. They cited “concerns about financial transparency, decision making, and accountability,” claiming the internal friction “undermined the efforts of chapters seeking to democratize its processes and resources.” The letter encouraged allies to donate directly to the local BLM chapters “who represent the frontline of Black Lives Matter.”
More recently, two women whose black teenaged sons were fatally shot by police officers in separate incidents called out Cullors, Abdullah, and the BLM Global Network by name on March 19, saying they “need to step down, stand back, and stop monopolizing and capitalizing off our fight for justice and human rights.” The request came in an official statement from Samira Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, and Lisa Simpson, mother of Richard Risher. Both women also criticized black liberation activist Shaun King, Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, and civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump and Lee Merritt.
“We demand accountability from everyone mentioned,” the joint statement said.
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Author: Jeffrey Cawood