Ferguson Organizers Demand $20 Million From Black Lives Matter

Ferguson Organizers Demand $20 Million From Black Lives Matter
Michael Brown Sr., father of Michael Brown, is seen as protestors march, in St. Louis, Mo., on Sept. 15, 2017. (Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images)
Zachary Stieber

The family of Michael Brown and other activists in Ferguson, Missouri are asking Black Lives Matter for $20 million.

Michael Brown Sr., father of the teenager who was fatally shot by a police officer in 2014, and Ferguson organizer Tony Russell made the demand after a report that the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGN) hauled in over $90 million in 2020.

Brown said he’s only received $500 from Black Lives Matter. He wants much more.

“Why hasn’t my family’s foundation received any assistance from the movement?” Brown asked in a statement this week. “How could you leave the families who are helping the community without any funding?”

Brown appeared in a video alongside Tory Russell, organizer for the International Black Freedom Alliance.

Russell, describing himself as speaking on behalf of many activists in the St. Louis area, said he and Brown want to “hold Black Lives Matter accountable.”

“The movement that has catapulted to the limelight has forgotten about Ferguson and the freedom fighters,” he said. “What kind of movement are we building where we’re saying ‘black lives matter’ but the freedom fighters and their families are being left behind?”

“We’re asking that Black Lives Matter leadership funds $20 million for Ferguson organizers, organizations, and community foundations to do the work. We’re not begging for a handout. We’re coming for what we deserve,” he added.

The funds would be used for annual commemorations for Brown Jr., mutual aid programs, “Black Panther-style” programs, farming, and fighting white supremacy.

The global network didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Patrisse Cullors attends an event in West Hollywood, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2020. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for The West Hollywood Edition)
Patrisse Cullors attends an event in West Hollywood, Calif., on Feb. 13, 2020. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images for The West Hollywood Edition)

The request came after BLMGN leaders shared financial information with the Associated Press, including the fact they drew in over $90 million last year, as protests and riots took place across the nation following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Corporations, lawmakers, and others signaled support for the movement, even as others questioned its goals and tactics and the history of its founders, two of whom are self-described Marxists, or communists.

In an impact report, the network said it has committed $21. 7 million in funding to both formal and informal Black Lives Matter chapters, in addition to 30 organizations led by black people.

The network ended 2020 with a balance of over $60 million.

Network co-founder Patrisse Cullors told the Associated Press that the network’s foundation is focused on a “need to reinvest into black communities.”

“One of our biggest goals this year is taking the dollars we were able to raise in 2020 and building out the institution we’ve been trying to build for the last seven and a half years,” added Cullors, who signed a production deal with Warner Bros. in October 2020.

The national arm has been criticized before for undercutting local activists.

In a joint statement last year, 10 local chapters said the creation of two entities through the network’s foundation “occurred without democracy, and assert that it was without the knowledge of the majority of Black Lives Matters chapters across the country and world.”

In addition, for years there have been questions about the financial operations of the network “no acceptable process of either public or internal transparency about the unknown millions of dollars donated to BLMGN,” the group said, adding: “To the best of our knowledge, most chapters have received little to no financial support from BLMGN since the launch in 2013.”