Employees from Apple, Google and Microsoft raised millions of dollars for the Black Lives Matter Foundation, believing that it is the Black Lives Matter (“Black Lives Are Important”). However, as the BuzzFeed portal found out, this organization has nothing to do with this movement.
Black Lives Matter Foundation discovered on the popular online fundraising platform GoFundMe 19-year-old student of Georgetown University Elena Iliadis. Considering that this was a fund for the global movement for racial justice, she and her classmates sent organizations nearly $ 1,100.
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The Black Lives Matter Foundation is located in Santa Clarita, California. There is one person working there – its founder, California music producer Robert Ray Barnes. In a conversation with BuzzFeed, Barnes stated that he had nothing to do with the Black Lives Matter movement and did not try to raise money because of the name that coincided with the slogan. In addition, while the Black Lives Matter movement is in favor of revising police funding and reinvesting money in African-American resources, the Barnes Foundation wants to “help bring the police and society closer together in an attempt to save lives.”
According to the fund’s tax return for 2017, he managed to raise $ 297 thousand in donations. Since the beginning of 2020, according to Barnes, the fund has received over $ 4 million in funds, including money sent by technology corporations Microsoft, Google and Apple. The GoFundMe platform, even before the Barnes statement, ceased working with the Black Lives Matter Foundation and froze $ 35,000 donated to the organization.
"We will work with all the organizers of the campaign to make sure that the money goes to the right place to support the Black Lives Matter movement," said a representative of GoFundMe. From 2018 to 2019, the platform sent $ 1,400 in donations to the Black Lives Matter Foundation. GoFundMe intends to return the money to donors if they did not plan to transfer these funds to an organization based in Santa Clarite.
A PayPal spokesperson said the Black Lives Matter Foundation was added to the Giving Fund database because it is a charity registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service. He called this situation unique because the name Black Lives Matter was not a registered trademark.
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The Black Lives Matter spokesman confirmed that the Barnes Foundation “has nothing to do with us,” and accused the creator of the fund of misusing the name. Barnes himself said that the concept itself does not belong to anyone, and he, being a black man, also had many problems with the police. Black Lives Matter, in his words, actually “stole” his name and idea, and the global movement itself does not disclose information about how it uses donations. “I didn’t steal anything from them. They stole from me. They lied and could make a profit using my name, ”said Barnes.
Even more confusing, the official name of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc movement, which was not registered in Delaware until 2017, while Barnes owns and operates the Black Lives Matter Foundation, 501 ©. It is noted that since the official movement is not non-profit and collects money through a charity called The Thousand Currents, the Barnes organization has benefited from the confusion with the brand, as people connected the two movements and donated money to its foundation.
Barnes, meanwhile, introduced the concept of rapprochement programs between police and members of certain areas. Part of this could be the distribution of newsletters with positive news about the police at local enterprises, as well as meetings with the police at local meetings, in which residents could talk with the police over a cup of coffee and donuts.
"Crimes exist now and will last forever, so we urgently need the services of the police. However, we need the services of a good police force," Barnes writes, saying that society needs policemen who respect everyone’s life equally and use force only when it’s absolutely necessary.
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Although his organization has been around for five years, Barnes has not yet been able to launch any of the programs because it took him a while to “outline a realistic plan of action.” “This cannot be done in one night. The idea is to go slowly, ”Barnes said of the work, calling his program“ a project of how we can work with the police. ”
At the same time, in Santa Clarita itself there is no police department at all, and in the city itself they never heard of the fund. Barnes claims his fund is working properly, but last December the California Attorney General’s office issued an order to terminate Barnes’s organization for failed annual financial statements.