In Spectator World, Sam Ashworth-Hayes explains the fleeting power of BLM, and the damage it did. He writes:
Various American cities, states and overseas colonies changed their policies. Statues were smashed. The festive and “mostly peaceful” protests over the summer racked up a couple of billion dollars in property damage. Regions which slashed police funding as part of the “defund” movement decided to boost police numbers again once it became apparent that crime data was spiking. And, of course, an enormous pile of corporate Danegeld rolled into organizations affiliated with the BLM movement.
One of the organizations which benefited most was the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which raised $90 million in 2020. Now newly released tax records show how that money has been spent. Of the sum, $26 million went in grants to organizations and families. Another $1.2 million went on lobbying Congress on measures such as abolishing the Drug Enforcement Agency and ending life sentences.
But $5.8 million was spent on a mansion in Los Angeles. Just under $1 million was paid to a company owned by the father of co-founder Patrisse Cullors’s child, to “produce live events” and provide “creative services.” Another $840,000 was paid to her brother for security services.
Scaling an organization up is difficult at the best of times; it is almost impossible when it happens at such speed and without any warning. But when a moment demands that donations are made to a movement, and that movement is an amorphous grouping of individuals, hashtags, and organizations, the money has to end up somewhere. To corporate donors it doesn’t really matter whether or not the receiving organization is ready for an influx of funds on that level; corporate donations are less about effective altruism than buying PR.
If this wasn’t about corporate PR, it’s questionable whether the entire BLM movement would have received such large donations. It’s true that BLM protests decrease police violence. One study suggested that cities which had BLM protests in the area had a reduction of nearly 300 fatal police shootings. The problem is that reducing police shootings is usually achieved by making the police less of a presence. For that reason the same cities saw somewhere between 1,000 and 6,000 more murders than they would have otherwise.
Ashworth notes the rise and fall of interest in BLM as measured by Google trends. Here’s a look at the interest in BLM on Google over time in the United States. As you can see, it has fallen down nearly to the levels before George Floyd’s death.
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