News & Opinion | June 17, 2020 6:00 am

The “Black Lives Matter Foundation” Isn’t Associated With Black Lives Matter

Millions earmarked for this soundalike nonprofit were going to a very different organization

Black Lives Matter protest
Make sure you're donating to the correct "Black Lives Matter."
John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A lot of money earmarked for Black Lives Matter causes may have ended up with an organization that has a similar name but no ties to the movement.

As reported by BuzzFeed News, several individuals and larger corporations (including employees at Apple and Google) have given donations to The Black Lives Matter Foundation, a tiny charitable organization in Santa Clarita, CA that has the goal of “bringing the community and police closer together.”

“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. “Our whole thing is having unity with the police department.”

Of course, that is a very different goal from what people consider Black Lives Matter, which admittedly started as more of a hashtag and has become a social movement more than an organized nonprofit.

Barnes, 67, is a Black man who has been accused of being opaque about his organization’s name and purpose, although he’s also had painful experiences with the LAPD and suggests that no one involved with the larger movement had previously been interested in creating a foundation. (The official BLM movement is not considered a nonprofit and raises money through a charity organization called Thousand Currents … confusingly under the moniker the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc.)

While Black Lives Matter has been vocal about defunding the police, Barnes’s Foundation is about legal help as well as creating communication between communities and their respective police forces. However, his organization has yet to actually host any events.

Fortunately, most of the over $4 million raised for the soundalike BLMF in early June has been frozen, and the Santa Clarita group has also seemingly added many disclaimers to its mission statement.

“The Santa Clarita group is improperly using our name,” said a spokesperson for Black Lives Matter (the big one). “We intend to call them out and follow up.”

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