GoFundMe Halts $350,000 Mistakenly Raised for CA Man’s Nonprofit Due to ‘Black Lives Matter’ Name Confusion

Minneapolis protests for George Floyd -- Black Lives Matter -- June 11, 2020
Fibonacci Blue/Flickr

Robert Ray Barnes said the non-profit foundation he founded to improve relations between the police and the black community has no connection to the political organization Black Lives Matter, but his organization has had donations directed to it from some confusing the two entities.

Barnes, who lives in California, said he founded his Black Lives Matter Foundation in 2015 after the death of his wife’s ex-husband allegedly at the hands of the Los Angeles police.

The foundation’s mission statement is included on the charity portal website Benevity.org and includes a disclaimer that it is not connected to the other group with the same name:

*Please note that this organization isn’t affiliated with the Black Lives Matter Global Network, nor the Thousand Currents organization* We intend, in various ways, to help survivors and families that have suffered the loss of a relative or loved one as a result of a questionable, unjust, or unlawful shooting by law enforcement or others. In addition, we will help assist the children of those victims with scholarships, educational assistance, career guidance and personal psychological counseling if needed. Moreover, we will use the unique and creative ideas developed in our Community Organized Programs, (whose acronym is COP), to help bring the police and the community closer together in an effort to save lives.

CBS News in Los Angeles reported on Barnes and his foundation after BuzzFeed News broke a story about how people have been donating to his organization thinking it is the Black Lives Matter movement:

“If someone did not want to donate to me, then I would gladly return it,” Barnes said to CBS2. “People have sent me checks that say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it doesn’t say the ‘Foundation’ and I send it back.”

GoFundMe sent CBS2 a statement on Monday, saying funds sent to the Foundation have been placed on hold: “One-hundred and eighty campaigns have recently raised money for the Black Lives Matter Foundation, raising $350,000. GoFundMe placed all funds on hold and we working with PayPal and the campaign organizers to ensure all of the money raised is transferred to the Black Lives Matter movement via their fiscal sponsor,” GoFundMe said.

CBS2 reported on the foundation’s 2017 tax filing, which states that its goal is to “use our unique and creative ideas to help bring the police and the community closer together to save lives.”

“Our whole goal is to find a way to bring the community and the police together so that we can live in harmony with the police,” Barnes said in the CBS2 report. “I’m proud of what we do. I’m not ashamed of it.”

Breitbart News reported that the Washington Times noted in 2016:

Black Lives Matter (BLM) presents itself as a plucky street-level movement with shoestring resources, but in truth it receives millions of dollars from corporate and political sponsors. The movement’s funding gives a hint of how far its political agenda stretches beyond criticizing the excessive use of force by police officers.

Fortune also looked at BLM funding in 2016 and noticed its agenda and funding streams could “help dispel the myth that the movement itself is set on violence,” but could also “confirm the worst fears” of skeptics who saw BLM becoming another part of the vast and protean left-wing money machine.

Breitbart News also reported on Kailee Scales, managing director for Black Lives Matter Network Action Fund and Black Lives Matter Global Network, Inc., and her dodging questions about how donations to the organization are used:

Finances was one particular focus of Scales’ critics. Black Lives Matter has been the recipient of millions of dollars in the past few weeks, as a string of corporations and celebrities announced massive donations for her organization to establish social justice bona fides for themselves. “Obviously right now BLM is getting MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars in donations,” asked one Reddit user. “Where is all the money going and how is it allocated?”

“Yeah, I would love to see a report about the amount of donations and for what it was used. Without this, the organization only uses the BLM name tag to get donations,” another said in the ensuing discussion thread.

Scales ignored these messages but eventually answered a question on the same topic. It did not go over well.

“When people give money to Black Lives Matter, where specifically does it go?” one user asked. “What’s financial transparency like for your organization?”

Scales gave a terse, generic reply. “Hi — great question. Right now, our programs are focused on civic engagement, expansion of chapters, Arts & Culture, organizing and digital advocacy resources and tools,” she said. “Please visit our website and subscribe to blacklivesmatter.com for updates and more information to come!”

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