BLM infighting has been going on for years, but the movement’s mission is ‘not done yet’

Last week, a coalition of 26 Black Lives Matter grassroots chapters filed a lawsuit against its sister organization, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.

In the days since the lawsuit was filed, questions have been raised by some observers. How does this family feud distract from the movement’s deeper message?

To understand this tension, we must first understand the structure of BLM.

Movement is generally slow and highly decentralized. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and AyọTometi sowed seeds in 2013 when George Zimmerman, 17, was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, nearly a decade before him. .

But there are also GNFs, which are non-profit foundations and legal entities. According to the lawsuit, GNF is responsible for raising funds and directing financial support to his BLM grassroots chapter engaged in “field work.”

This is where the BLM conflict is. That is, between the management department and the grassroots department.

The pressure had been building over the years.Colors got off In May 2021, I stepped down from my position as Executive Director of GNF. Criticism from some grassroots chapters of changes in leadership structuresGarza and Tometi had already left the group.
Bowers denied the accusations leveled in the lawsuit, said in a joint statement with the Council last week They are “harmful, divisive, and false.”
Los Angeles Times columnist Erica D. Smith said in an article published Sunday Summary of concerns In light of recent BLM news, some black Americans have.

“Black Lives Matter is and always will be, but the Black Lives Matter movement will never be as important as it once was,” she said. is writing

To dig deeper into this fear, we spoke with Justin Hansford, Howard Law School professor and executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Center for Civil Rights.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What are your thoughts on the recent BLM controversy?

Things are always in jeopardy when a movement leader suddenly has millions of dollars. Becoming a millionaire is not part of the story of being a civil rights leader.

For those who are truly committed to the movement, those who have devoted all their time, energy and resources to it, and those who have been tear gassed and jailed, it is disconcerting to see two major phenomena right now. I have to..

The political system is essentially deciding to disagree with what people say, not just ignore it. call for more police fundingAnd there seems to be a lot of money going back and forth between the various leaders. It must be disconcerting.

As of May 2020, who could have imagined that two years from now it would turn out like this? Those who took to the streets demanding justice for George Floyd or demanding police restitution could not have expected us to be here in September 2022.

What are the pitfalls of rapid economic growth?

When sudden financial growth occurs, organizations must be prepared to find the expertise needed to handle that growth responsibly. Sometimes there is an idea in the way people speak that they can do everything by themselves. So if someone is a good speaker and organizer, they must also have good accounting skills. There is no reason to assume that people are prepared for that influx of money just because they are good protest leaders.

As far back as the mid-20th century, civil rights organizations had a particular organizational structure. No one person was expected to respond or handle everything. So it’s a special challenge. But it’s not an insurmountable challenge, as there are experts to help. But you can’t expect people to be everything all the time.

Is exercise credibility at stake?

Time for the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation did its financial accounting earlier this year, was the first time people really wondered where all the money went, so I thought the credibility of the movement was definitely at stake. It was one of those situations where people all over the country were shocked when they heard the news.

We’re talking mostly about Infighting this time around, but I don’t think it will have much of an impact. In many respects, infighting was inevitable given the information that came out earlier. Tens of millions of dollars were sitting there. An infighting over the news was inevitable.

This is one of the greatest tragedies of this entire incident. Instead of talking about what happens with police violence, we have to spend a lot of time talking about what feels like gossip. do not stop.

How are BLM’s deeper messages still important?

The 2020 protests were unprecedented in US history. All those people have spoken out, but as a society we are still reeling from it. There has been a backlash and the political system hasn’t really responded to those people. It’s not over yet.

Not only was there no political solution to the problem. Both parties had backlash. Republicans and some Democrats are basically snorting against BLM. I have a lot of unfinished business. I don’t think the movement is dead.

I believe summer 2020 will be the most important political moment in our nation’s history since the civil rights movement. It’s assembling everything that comes after it. Even the entire anti-“critical race theory” panic is a reaction to what happened in 2020.

There has always been confusion between BLM, organization, and broader movement. I would like to clarify that we are talking about the broader movement. The current infighting is a sad chapter in the history of BLM. But I think the broader movement says a lot more about police violence and race in the United States.


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