Americans Deserve To Know Who Funded BLM Riots
This essay was originally published in Newsweek on March 14, 2023.
Most Americans have happily moved on from the 2020 Black Lives Matter (BLM)-driven ransacking of some 200 American cities, which resulted in as much as $2 billion in property damage and at least 25 deaths. But that time must be remembered for more than rioting and destruction. The BLM pressure campaigns, harassment, and moral blackmail also amounted to possibly the most lucrative shakedown of corporate America in its history.
Today the Claremont Institute’s Center for the American Way of Life published the most comprehensive database to date tracking corporate contributions and pledges to the Black Lives Matter movement and related causes from 2020 to the present. Companies and corporations pledged or contributed an astonishing $82.9 billion to the BLM movement and related causes. This includes more than $123 million to the BLM parent organizations directly. These figures, while shocking, likely underrepresent the true magnitude of the shakedown as some companies failed to make known their contributions, and many BLM organizations remain unknown.
As a point of reference, $82.9 billion is more than the GDP of 46 African countries. In 2022, the Ford Motor Company’s profits were $23 billion.
Though largely decentralized, BLM is united in purpose and action. Its leaders hobnob with militant leftists such as Angela Davis and former Weather Underground members Eric Mann and Susan Rosenberg. Mann, who mentored BLM Global Network co-founder Patrisse Cullors, maintains that whether the issue is race, sex, gender, immigration, or the environment, the revolutionary goal remains the same, and the rest is just “little divisions of labor.” BLM shares this view, and while its activism encompasses the full range of leftist causes, its goal is to undermine capitalism, the nation state, and Western civilization.
Alicia Garza, another BLM cofounder and a self-professed “trained Marxist,” has acknowledged as much, stating bluntly that “Black lives can’t matter under capitalism. They’re like oil and water.” “It’s not possible for a world to emerge where black lives matter if it’s under capitalism,” she added on another occasion, “And it’s not possible to abolish capitalism without a struggle against national oppression and gender oppression.”
According to Garza, BLM is not “just one entity.” Instead, she explains, “Black Lives Matter is an organization and a network. We are a part of the movement, but we are not the movement.” At the head are the two BLM parent organizations, the aforementioned Global Network and the Movement for Black Lives, an even more radical outfit that supports a collective of more than 150 ideologically aligned revolutionary organizations. Further downstream are the local BLM chapters, which do the movement’s heavy lifting, and BLM At School, which seeks defeat the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” At the tail are a bevy of social justice organizations including household names such as the NAACP and ACLU, which just so happen to be partners of the Global Network and BLM DC, respectively. Undergirding the movement is a horde of far-left militants and their rabble.
How is BLM using the money? It is difficult to track, but some examples are likely demonstrative. The Global Network is investing tens of millions of dollars to support future operations, purchasing luxury real estate, engaging in nepotism, disbursing grants to dozens of BLM chapters and revolutionary organizations, and operating a PAC to “elect progressive community leaders, activists, and working-class candidates fighting for Black liberation.”
Local BLM chapters are spending millions on activism and initiatives to defund police departments. BLM At School is indoctrinating children around the country in critical race theory and queer theory, teaching them to hate themselves, their peers, and their country. And left-wing nonprofits are effecting wholescale societal change too radical for normal legislative avenues, constituting a form of shadow governance.
Meanwhile, banks are issuing billions of dollars in subprime loans “to help end systemic racism,” and corporations are funding leftist bail funds that release violent rioters and criminals onto our streets and collaborating to create racialized, anti-meritocratic hiring schemes.
A couple of examples are JPMorgan Chase—whose $30 billion “Racial Equity Commitment” includes billions in targeted investments to “close the racial wealth gap”—and Microsoft—whose $244 million in pledges includes a $250,000 contribution to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a bail fund for BLM rioters.
This redistribution of corporate wealth—wealth that rightly belongs to shareholders, including pensioners and retirees, and that should have been paid out as dividends or put toward stock buybacks—is historic, and may be viewed as a form of reparations made to self-declared enemies of the American nation and way of life. And that wealth transfer is inconceivable without BLM.
The fact that, in many cases, we cannot say for certain how the money is being spent should concern any American interested in corporate accountability and market transparency. We hope the information made available in our database proves useful to those wishing to hold companies accountable for their actions.
The greater takeaway from the database, however, is that the radical Left has the means—and willingness—to realize its policy preferences in ways that bypass the democratic political process. In fact, the BLM riots prove to the Left that it can and should do this again.
There are several ways to address this threat, including reining in corporate “charitable” giving, reforming nonprofit law, and freeing companies from the clutch of ESG. Any of these will require action by regulators or Congress, both of which have proven spineless. But we should also ask ourselves why we grant subversives and revolutionaries license to run amok in our communities and drain resources from our economy. More importantly, why do we tolerate the bankrolling and facilitation of such activities by a major political party? These practices are neither prudent nor characteristic of a healthy society. Casting light on the issue is the first step toward fixing the problem, but the work has just begun. You can access the database here.