Black Lives Matter founder breaks down in interview over right-wing attacks on her new home

Patrisse Cullors describes scrutiny over her properties as a ‘racist and sexist’ attack by ‘right-wing media’

James Crump
Saturday 17 April 2021 04:22 EDT

BLM protesters descend on white diner at DC restaurant

Black Lives Matter (BLM) co-founder Patrisse Cullors held back tears while discussing criticism she faced last week over her housing portfolio, worth $3m (£2.17m).

Ms 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”.

However, during an interview with Marc Lamont Hill for Black News Tonight on Thursday, Ms Cullors described the scrutiny over her homes as a “racist and sexist” attack by the “right-wing media”.

Ms Cullors also rejected claims that the purchases go against her self-described ideology as a “trained Marxist”, explaining that she bought the homes for her family, and defines her wealth “as my family’s money, as well”.

She added: “I think that is critique that is wanting. The way that I live my life is a direct support to Black people, including my Black family members, first and foremost.

“For so many Black folks who are able to invest in themselves and their communities they choose to invest in their family and that is what I have chosen to do.”

Ms Cullors then told Mr Hill that she thinks the criticism over her properties is part of an effort to discredit her work and BLM’s activism.

“The whole point of these articles and these attacks against me are to discredit me, but also to discredit the movement,” she said.

“We have to stay focused on white supremacy,’ she added as she urged people to ‘see through the right-wing lies,’” Ms Cullors added.

After being asked how she has coped with the criticism by Mr Hill, she then held back tears and revealed that she hired security last week after the initial reports came out and her new home was pictured in the media.

“I spent the last week with security and these articles have shown the homes that I live in and that my family lives in,” she said as she held back tears.

“I have not just been a target of white supremacists and the right in this moment but obviously since the beginning of when I started Black Lives Matter I have been a target and these folks have created a much more dangerous situation for me and my family. It is very serious.”

The criticism last week prompted BLM to release a statement on Tuesday denying paying for the properties.

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

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.”

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

The Independent has contacted Ms Cullors and Mr Whitlock for additional comment.

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