All across the world, Black Lives Matter protests continue to take place after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota in May. Floyd’s death, which came after a police officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes, has led to a global anti-racist movement, resulting in protestors setting police stations on fire, toppling statues, and many donating thousands of pounds to anti-racist causes.
While many of the Black Lives Matter branches direct their donations to the global Black Lives Matter donation page, some have launched individual donation pages or GoFundMes. This month, the Guardian reported that donations to Black Lives Matter UK and other groups had topped £1 million, leading many to enquire about how the funds would be used.
In the UK, various non-hierarchical branches of the Black Lives Matter global organisation have emerged, usually centred around towns and cities across the UK. Unlike many historic anti-racism movements, Black Lives Matter doesn’t have a clear figurehead or leader, so marches across the country have been organised by different groups that will often work in tandem with each other. We spoke to four about the money they’d raised so far and what they hope to spend it on.
BLACK LIVES MATTER UK (BLMUK)
Total donations: Almost £1.1 million
Black Lives Matter UK is a UK branch of the global Black Lives Matter movement, and describes itself as a coalition of black activists and organisers that have been working together since 2016. At the time of publication, it has raised almost £1.1 million on its GoFundMe.
When asked about how it intends to spend its donations, a spokesperson for the organisation told the Guardian, “BLMUK have been overwhelmed and greatly touched by the generosity of communities and individuals across the country. The safety of the people protesting is our priority and we are working with other groups to ensure this. In the longer term, we will take our time in making carefully considered plans about how these donations can be best invested into the Black communities that need them most.”
On its GoFundMe, the group states: “These donations are to support UKBLM’s work with Black communities across the UK. This is an evolving fund to support Black life against institutional racism and enable radical re-imagining/knowledge production from within our communities.”
In a response to VICE's request for more specific information, the group said: “We’ve already put statements out on our social channels and our GoFundMe that answer these questions in as much detail as we are able to at this time. So there’s nothing new to say to you or anyone else for now and you should refer to those.”
On Twitter, BLMUK explains that "none of the funds raised through the GoFundMe campaign will be touched until the distribution plans are made publicly available, including some of the many deserving campaigns and organisations we'll be supporting initially. All transactions made from the account will be made public in the spirit of transparency and accountability in due course."
TRIBE NAMED ATHARI (FORMERLY KNOWN AS LDN BLM)
Total donations: Almost £12,000
Tribe Named Athari ("Athari" translates to “impact” in Swahili) are a London-based organisation that provides support to organisers but has no direct affiliation with Black Lives Matter UK. “We have a good rapport with the majority, if not all of the organisations in London and we’re still reaching out to others in the UK. We’re not a London chapter of BLM,” Tribe Named Athari spokesperson Ferns Hampton tells VICE.
The GoFundMe page, published on Tribe Named Athari’s Twitter and Instagram pages, has raised almost £12,000. Their GoFundMe page includes a list of ways the money will be spent, from “developing plans to do movement building and strategy planning” to “organising projects and campaigns focused on healing relief and healing release” and “developing educational materials, resources and workshops”.
Hampton explains that the majority of the money will be used to continue to ensure that upcoming protests continue to be safe. “We put out our own GoFundMe because we were not getting the right amount of water, masks or PPE to keep our people safe when they are protesting. They are the main things that we need to raise money for.”
“People tell us about protests and we go and find out who initiated the protest, that’s when we start to work our stuff on the backend,” Hampton adds. “Our role has been facilitating the protests by making them safer and bringing more youth to them. We’ve been sorting out first-aid resources, having a collection hub for the resources and making sure that our delivery drivers get the resources to the protests.”
Tribe Named Athari say that they are aiming to be as transparent as possible due to their large following on social media – they currently have 58,500 Instagram followers. “We want to make sure that when we are putting up protest posters we’re making sure that the organisers have every single detail locked down,” Hampton explains. “With the work we’re doing, we need trust from our community. People need to know who they’re holding accountable. It’s not good enough for it just to be a social media account.”
BLACK LIVES MATTER LEEDS
Total donations: Over £7,000
Black Lives Matter Leeds was formed around six years ago, and is run by a group of four core organisers and over 15 volunteers. Their GoFundMe fundraising page has raised just over £7,000 in donations.
“The two main things we've agreed to do with the money is – there's the physical aspect like hand sanitiser and face masks for protests, anything to keep people safe if they do attend our protests. That's the short term initiative,” BLM Leeds organiser Abdulaziz Adekola explains. “We are [also] wanting to raise funds for causes and organisations in Leeds. For example, we look at the Racial Justice Network that's been set up in Leeds and been running for a few years now. That's a cause that we support and stand with so we are looking to donate some money to them.”
“We sort of see [the donations] like a funding pot for the community because there is a sort of reputation that comes with Black Lives Matter movements and Black Lives Matter Leeds, so people can buy into it considerably easier than they may be able to but into these other organisation which are just as important if not more,” Adekola continues. “We can act as a medium between the two.”
Adekola says transparency around funds is a big concern for the branch. “One of the most important things we agreed upon is that – we do have some volunteers who are accountants, and we believe in the whole transparency of everything, so they've said they could work with us and make sure that anything we do spend money on is accounted for and explained, and published as well.”
ALL BLACK LIVES UK
Total donations: £5,500
The All Black Lives GoFundMe fundraiser, as publicised on their Twitter and Instagram accounts, has raised just over £3,000 of their £15,000 target at the time of publication. Before the youth-led group was officially founded in June, the organisers collected Paypal donations for demonstrations in different cities across the UK on June 7th.
“It was all used to make sure that everyone had a safe experience and that the protest could run smoothly," co-founder Tyrek Morris explains. "We raised just about £2,500 through Paypal and used it to hire speakers and megaphones and buy masks, water and hi-vis jackets for any volunteers, as we had medical staff too."
Although they have used the #BLM hashtag for some protests, All Black Lives UK is an entirely separate organisation to Black Lives Matter UK. Morris says that the £15,000 target for their GoFundMe will cover more than protest costs. “Some of that will be put towards masks, PPE and water to fund any further protests. But now that we’re setting up as an organisation, we do intend further down the line to expand into more community work and liaising with government officials. We’ll also be selling t-shirts to raise more money – we just needed a lot more money to get us started.”