‘Tactic of terror’: BLM leader hits out at ‘right wing’ criticism after reports into her purchase of homes worth $3m

‘Our movement will not be silenced,’ says Black Lives Matter

James Crump
Wednesday 14 April 2021 11:05 EDT

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Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors has hit out at “right wing harassment” following criticism last week after it was reported she has a housing portfolio worth $3m (£2.17m).

Ms Khan-Cullors, 37, who created the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in 2013 and later co-founded the Black Lives Matter Network, was criticised last week after the New York Post revealed that she had spent $1.4m (£1.017m) on a Los Angeles property, her third residence in the city and fourth overall.

She has bought two other homes in the Los Angeles area over the last few years, which sit in her portfolio alongside a 3.2 acre property in Georgia that she purchased for $415,000 (£301,950).

Questions were raised about how the director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation had acquired the funds to pay for the properties, with Black sports journalist Jason Whitlock accusing her and other BLM founders of “making millions of dollars off the backs of these dead black men who they wouldn’t spit on if they were on fire and alive”.

In a separate tweet he wrote: “There is so much hypocrisy. She’s acting like a capitalist,” and added: “She chose to live in one of the whitest places in California”.

Several right-wing commentators, including Andy Ngo, also criticised Ms Khan-Cullors, as the latter tweeted: “Cullors identifies as a communist & advocates for the abolishment of capitalism.”

The criticism prompted the organisation to release a statement on Tuesday denying paying for the properties.

The group revealed that Ms Khan-Cullors, who describes herself as a “trained Marxist”, has not been paid by them since 2019 and that she had only received around $120,000 (£87,234) from them since the organisation’s founding in 2013, for “duties such as serving as spokesperson and engaging in political education work”.

Since helping found BLM in 2013 following George Zimmerman’s acquittal for killing Trayvon Martin, Ms Khan-Cullors has written a best-selling memoir and has signed a deal to create content with Warner Bros, according to the Daily Mail.

Ms Khan-Cullors, who has a follow-up to her best-selling book on the way, took to Instagram on Tuesday to reiterate the group’s claims that she has not received payment from them in 2019 and to slam those who criticised her spending.

In a series of posts on Tuesday evening, Ms Khan-Cullors wrote: “I’ve worked multiple jobs across many organisations,” including as a “professor” and “public speaker”, adding: “I love my work in all of these areas and I work hard to provide for my family.”

Turning attention to the criticism she has received for her purchases, Ms Khan-Cullors wrote that it is part of an “effort to discredit and harass me and my family”.

She wrote that she often receives death threats, calling the criticisms “harmful and scary” and claiming that it has “taken away from where the focus should be – ending white supremacy”.

BLM then released a similar statement, dismissing claims that her purchases go against her politics, and writing: “Patrisse’s work for Black people over the years has made her and others who align with the fight for Black liberation targets of racist violence.”

The group wrote that “the narratives being spread about Patrisse have been generated by right-wing forces intent on reducing the support and influence of a movement that is larger than any one organisation.

“This right-wing offensive not only puts Patrisse, her child and her loved ones in harm’s way, it also continues a tradition of terror by white supremacists against Black activists.”

BLM added: “All Black activists know the fear these malicious and serious actions are meant to instil: the fear of being silenced, the trauma of being targeted, the torture of feeling one’s family is exposed to danger just for speaking out against unjust systems.

“We have seen this tactic of terror time and again, but our movement will not be silenced.”

The Independent has contacted Ms Khan-Cullors, Mr Whitlock and Mr Ngo for additional comment.

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