DeRay, attention, fame, fundraising, integrity, deflection, projection and the desperate need for us to actually focus on doing the work in front of us
(PERSONAL NOTE: Half of the people in my universe begged me not to write this and to just focus on the hard work I do day in and day out. The other half demanded that I do so to not only clear my name of false allegations, but to push back once and for all so that we can indeed get back to the work. My calculation is this — no matter what I say, no matter how many sources or records or receipts I provide, it will never be enough for DeRay or other critics. I will lay all of my thoughts out here, once and for all, and this will have to be the end of it. We’ve got actual work to do.)
Four years ago, I was at an open house for the brand new high school our daughter was attending. We had just moved to New York from Atlanta. I was the Senior Justice Writer for the New York Daily News and she was starting her freshman year at a brilliant performing arts school. A few feet away from me, I saw a mom lean over and tell her own daughter, “That’s @ShaunKing.”
The mother was close enough to reach out and touch me, I was right there, in the flesh, in the room, and she still saw me as an extension of Twitter. She literally said “AT Shaun King.”
I am not a Twitter account. When I look in the mirror in the morning, I don’t see @ShaunKing or a social media personality. I am a husband to the brilliant Black woman I first met and fell in love with in 1996. I am a father to five beautiful, spectacular, loving children. They are in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college — and they, not Twitter, are the center of my life. Much of the work I do in the world, I do with them in mind. More than anything else, I see myself as a husband and father. It’s the true calling of my life and I have been faithful to that calling since I was a very young man. We started having kids when we were still in college. I’ve been a husband and father my entire adult life.
But social media doesn’t tell that story. I stopped posting pictures and videos of the kids after all seven us began receiving death threats, stalkers, and more. But most of my daily life is spent shuttling the babies to dance rehearsals and recitals, basketball practices and games, gymnastics exhibitions, parent teacher conferences, high school admissions expos, college prep workshops, and so much more. That’s who I actually am in real life.
So, on this past Thursday, hours before I was to be honored by Rihanna at her annual gala for her international development organization, The Clara Lionel Foundation, DeRay McKesson posted a lengthy editorial here on Medium and on Twitter, questioning my integrity, fundraising, and accountability.
When I first got a text saying he had posted it, it was time to pick up the kids from school. I have to admit, that I was devastated. DeRay had timed this to center himself at a very vulnerable time where I could hardly respond and the foundation was focused on their big moment.
I actually know Rihanna. I actually know Justine and Fiona who help run the Clara Lionel Foundation. I have privately been a guest speaker for the foundation to talk with their brilliant young scholars from around the world. I have privately met with the foundation staff to talk about fundraising and communications strategies. When my brother died suddenly from pancreatic cancer this past year, Rihanna, who has lost precious loved ones to cancer as well, not only helped to encourage me, but she did so for my brother’s wife and children too. We’ll never forget it.
That DeRay chose to release a public attack against me hours before the Diamond Ball was vindictive, short-sighted, and destructive. That Diamond Ball was never going to be about me. It’s about the Clara Lionel Foundation and the astounding work they are doing all over the world. Rihanna’s foundation is not a fan club. It’s a serious organization providing life-changing support in over a dozen countries. She does the work herself, off-camera, away from the spotlight, and it’s amazing. The Diamond Ball is a fundraiser for the foundation. The moment where I was honored was always going to be tiny speck in the evening. But because of DeRay’s poorly-timed op-ed, on the red carpet reporters berated guests about me and my presence — and instead of Rihanna or the foundation or the Diamond Ball being the top trending topic in the country, it was DeRay and his attack against me — all night long. It deflated many people behind the scenes on what was supposed to be nothing but a special, fun night for a very special organization.
This is what DeRay wanted. His mission was accomplished. It was humiliating for me on some levels, but it was mainly just an awful distraction on the most important night of Rihanna’s year. On a night that was planned to be about the climate crisis, about Hurricane Dorian and its impact, about the Prime Minister of Rihanna’s home country of Barbados, Mia Mottley, who was the real star of to be honored that night, DeRay forced himself into the limelight, into the trending topics, and made the conversation about him. He couched it in the patina of “integrity,” but his decision to release such a piece right before the Diamond Ball had nothing to do with integrity and everything to do with his incessant need for attention. DeRay is now mainly famous for being famous more than he is famous for actually doing real work that helps real people. And because his fame is most exclusively centered on Twitter, where he has long since blocked me, he lodged this complaint about me on Twitter, claiming to want to answers that he never sought from me or anyone I work with, publicly or privately, and did so where I cannot see it and cannot respond to his remarks. This isn’t about accountability. It’s about attention. He lodged this public feud against the advice of many. They told me so.
As I said on Twitter, since DeRay and I first fell out in 2015, I have reached out publicly and privately on multiple occasions, I’ve counted five, to offer an olive branch. He refused each overture. It sounds silly, but after Meek Mill and Drake squashed their beef, several executives from the hip hop industry asked me if I could do the same with DeRay. I said yes — and offered again. He refused. I say this to say that I have repeatedly extended myself to him for reconciliation, for confrontation, for conversation, or whatever else may come out of such a meeting. I do not want a public beef. This is his doing and his alone. It did not have to be this way and should not have happened this way. It’s a spectacle. It does not damage me. Everything I do I will continue to do. It damages the movement. It damaged a special night for the Clara Lionel Foundation. It damages my ability to raise money for families impacted by police violence — something DeRay has routinely avoided like the plague.
That’s why I have to say that his release of a public critique hours before the Diamond Ball was not rooted in anything of good-faith, and his demands that I now respond to him on Twitter, when he has my number, my email, and everything else, isn’t rooted in integrity, but in a need to center himself at a moment where he didn’t feel centered.
Furthermore, a sexist, dismissive assumption is being made about both Rihanna and Cardi B in their public and private support of me. The assumption is that DeRay knows better than they do. The inference is that if Rihanna and Cardi were only better informed, if they only were a little smarter or a little more woke, like him, if they only knew what Twitter knows, they wouldn’t fuck with me. Such a conclusion isn’t just wrong, it’s ignorant. These women know exactly who I am. They actually know all about my work in real life. They know about my work to elect new district attorneys across the country. They know about my work to flip the Senate. They know about my work supporting families impacted by police brutality and bigotry.
Bigger than that, do you truly think that Rihanna is stupid? She’s not just one of the most famous, talented artists in the world — she runs multiple wildly successful businesses and an international charity that is changing the world for good. She’s a genius. She’s highly informed. She and her team chose to honor me on purpose. She and her team chose to maintain the honor even after a social media campaign pushed to get them to rescind it. Let me tell you that story.
Nearly one month ago to the day, I was a part of a dream team that launched a campaign to flip the United States Senate from conservative control. The staff is a veritable who’s who of political organizing. And we all determined, together, that as important as it is to defeat Donald Trump, that even if he loses, but Republicans control the Senate, the new President will get absolutely nothing done. We saw that happen for six of the eight years of Obama’s presidency.
Within hours of launching the campaign, what seemed like a planned attack to smear me was launched on Twitter — saying that our new campaign was a scam, a grift, a hustle, a sham, a get rich quick scheme for me. But months earlier, our staff, attorneys, and advisors all determined that I should never and could never be paid for that work. We are on pace to raise and spend over $5 million to help flip the Senate, but I will never see a penny of that. I lead the project and do it for free. We have a staff of nearly 15 people now. I am not one of them. Never was. Never will be. We file quarterly filings with the FEC with our entire budget in them. This wasn’t done because of public criticism. It was decided before we launched.
The same is true for Real Justice — the political organization that I co-founded and help lead. We have released nearly a dozen different quarterly filings of our budget. Nobody reads them. They are thorough and required by law. They aren’t juicy, but they are detailed. That’s why they don’t go viral and are never mentioned. We have raised and spent millions of dollars to help elect district attorneys around the country — more than any other independent political organization in the nation — and we’ve been very successful — helping to elect new district attorneys in Philadelphia, Boston, San Antonio, St. Louis, in Jackson, Mississippi, and elsewhere. City by city, county by county, we are helping to end mass incarceration from the inside out.
So, after we announced our campaign to flip the Senate, and people said they should not trust the work, that it was a hustle and a grift and a scam, and that I had been stealing from families impacted by police violence and bigotry for years, I assembled a team to issue a clear, forceful rebuttal to these false claims.
At that time, the primary public accusations against me were two fold:
- That I was stealing from fundraisers for families impacted by police violence and bigotry during the Black Lives Matter Movement.
- That the current work that I am doing with our campaign to Flip The Senate or Real Justice is a fraudulent hustle, scam, grift, etc.
I have been a fundraiser and passionate advocate for causes my entire adult life. While I’ve written over 1,500 articles about injustice around the world, my most valued work in the movement has not been those articles, it’s been my fundraising.
When we issued this 72 page public report on every fundraiser that I have been a part of from the start of the Black Lives Matter Movement in August of 2014 until we finished the report in August of 2019, a period of five years, we knew that no matter how clear, no matter how exhaustive, someone like DeRay would look at 72 pages of answers and still say, as he actually said, that the report “raised more questions than answers.” When DeRay says that, he does so assuming that you will not actually read the report.
Eight primary people, each very respected in their fields, dropped everything they were doing for nearly 3 weeks to collect an enormous volume of data, analyze it, then issue a report. They each put their name on it, staked their reputations on its authenticity, and have since publicly defended it.
DeRay, who cobbled together a Medium piece on his own, is now suggesting that his report is the truth and the 72 page report publicly authored by a team of widely respected professionals is a lie.
- It was not written by me, as DeRay has erroneously said. Rob Smith, who is one of the most respected attorneys and executives in the justice movement, with an absolutely flawless reputation, was the primary author and editor. He also directly engaged with every attorney and family quoted in the report. Rob Smith was also given full access to five years of my tax returns filed jointly with my wife. He has also been given full access to all of my social media accounts. At this point, DeRay wants you to believe that I am publicly lying about Rob Smith writing the report, but that it was actually me. DeRay wants you to believe that Rob Smith was/is fully willing to risk his professional reputation by standing by the report because we know each other. That’s preposterous.
- David Mitrani, one of the most respected compliance attorneys in the world, wrote a statement in the report on the finances and auditing measures for Real Justice, The Action PAC, and Flip the Senate. He has full access to all of our filings, bank accounts, and more.
- Allan Boomer & Tiffany Hawkins, of Momentum Advisors, two of the most reputable financial experts in the nation, were given full access to five years of my joint tax returns filed with my wife, full access to all of our bank accounts, investment accounts, and more. Allan and Tiffany also brought in an additional CPA and attorney, Richard Bell, who was also given full access to everything.
- Becky Bond, one of the most respected organizers and political executives in the nation, again with a flawless reputation in the space, authored a full section of the report on her knowledge of my organizing and fundraising, including all of the compliance measures that were put in place.
- Civil Rights Attorney Lee Merritt was tasked with reaching out to every attorney who asked me to help them fundraise over the past five years and every family that asked me to help them fundraise over the past five years.
- Tamika Mallory, one of the most respected civil rights leaders and organizers in the nation, was tasked with helping to oversee the reports from every person and family I helped fundraise for over the past five years — including collecting statements from many of them.
DeRay is not just saying I am lying. At this point he is saying that everybody who wrote the report is lying and is doing so because they’ve been paid (they haven’t) or because we know each other. In erasing the hard work of every person in that report, including two Black women, three Black men, a queer woman, and several respected attorneys, he is basically saying that his word means more than their careers or expertise.
Worse than that, 46 different families issued statements in the report that DeRay has all but erased. Are they lying? Is your argument that 46 families and 8 leading professionals came together to support the largest accounting of public fraud in modern civil rights history? And that you, professional Twitter sleuth, actually know the real truth? It’s gross. But when your ego outpaces your expertise and education, this is what happens.
If you sincerely read 72 pages of that report, and said it came away with “more questions than answers,” then I question your literacy. 90% of the report is made up of actual statements from the families and attorneys and organizations and charities I’ve supported.
In a moment, I will address line for line, the false allegations from DeRay, but first, this must be said…
In the name of addressing my integrity, DeRay has conveniently skipped over five straight years of complaints people have about him.
It sincerely, earnestly makes me think his new attacks against me are a weird form a projection. Or jealousy. Or a power move. Maybe he wanted Diamond Ball tickets, I don’t know, I just know that it is very peculiar for that man to attempt to be either the arbiter of integrity or the gatekeeper to this movement. He is neither.
When DeRay first published his piece about me, the flood of texts and emails I received was first from people who were shocked to see him do so considering how many people in cities all over the country have lodged real life complaints, publicly and privately about him. It was surreal. He is literally not welcomed in Ferguson. He was heckled endlessly by Ferguson activists when he had a stop in St. Louis on his book tour .Activists and organizers in Baltimore were furious when DeRay decided to run for Mayor. He was hardly even connected with the city and ultimately received only 2% of the vote in spite of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the race. Here’s a local news story on the race.
McKesson has no local network, no recent history of grassroots activism in town or even living here, despite having been born in Baltimore and working here for a time for city schools, a chorus of critics were quick to say.
“Who is he, other than Twitter?” said Kinji Scott on Facebook. “What has he done for any of us to pay attention to?”
For local activists young and old, McKesson’s last-minute mayoral bid and the attendant international national media splash has been confounding, if not galling.
“I march, I read, I advocate every day in Baltimore and have done so for years. I mean the young brother no disrespect whatsoever but I didn’t know much about him,” veteran community activist Ralph Moore said. “Someone is engaging in magical thinking trying to promote him.”
Young city organizers who were active well before Baltimore’s civil unrest in April also expressed skepticism.
“Misguided, at best,” wrote Adam Jackson, of the youth-led group Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle on Facebook.
“In terms of his actual connections to working class black people here and actively working to improve the quality of Black life, I have not seen that from Mckesson,” Jackson wrote.
A lot of organizers on the frontlines that were from Ferguson regularly called out DeRay for claiming he was doing actual work that he wasn’t doing and raising funds for it in the process.
Last year, at his book signing in St. Louis, one of the most respected front line activists FROM FERGUSON interrupted him to call him out for claiming to do work that he didn’t actually do and profiting off of people in the process.
Nobody, though, was more clear about DeRay’s fraudulent behavior in Ferguson than Darren Seals. In March of 2015, I took up for DeRay online after I saw he was being blasted for being an impostor in Ferguson. Darren and other leaders who were actually from Ferguson wrote me, a full six months after Mike Brown was murdered, to say that they didn’t even know him, that he wasn’t actually organizing anyone, that he refused to work with groups doing the actual work, and that he was soliciting funds for work while not being connected to any local organizations doing the actual work. Darren wrote this tweet to me about DeRay just two months before he was tragically murdered in 2016. It is one of dozens of statements Darren made attempting to alert the world to Deray’s fraud and abuse in Ferguson. Because DeRay endeared himself to the media, and would never turn down a request to appear on a talkshow, leaders like Darren were rarely given a microphone.
Here are those screenshots from Darren. You will notice in the email that is says that people in Ferguson wanted DeRay to leave so badly that they were ready to assault him just to get him to leave. Darren eventually did slap DeRay in the face in such a confrontation. It was that bad.
Other front line organizers in Ferguson continued to sound the alarm to the nation for years. His role as an “organizer” in Ferguson is how he built his reputation, but actual organizers in Ferguson say he never organized anybody or anything.
Another front line activist who is close with Mike Brown, Sr. sent this to me yesterday about his disrespect of the family. They are in gray. I am in blue.
The truth is that you’d have a hard time actually finding a family impacted by police violence that DeRay has ever supported financially. And when local activists have asked for his help with fundraisers, he has flat out ignored them.
For each of those families, after Leyla asked me for support, I not only raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for them, but took on their cases as if they were my own family. They each spoke about it here. Crystal Mason, who was jailed for five years for voting, replied to Leyla’s post yesterday about the difference between the kind of support DeRay tweets about and the “real support” we offered her.
Here’s the thing, I’ll take Crystal Mason, a woman who has suffered a horrible injustice simply for voting, calling Leyla and I “true Angels” over any award. Even more than that, this type of love from Crystal Mason is what allows me to ride out the wave of Twitter critiques. While some people are tweeting beefs, we’re out here helping real people.
I’m not just tweeting, or writing stories, or even raising funds, my wife and I welcome families into our home to support them through their grief. This is the family of Botham Jean in our home. Their statement is below.
“We have had the pleasure of interacting with Shaun King in the months following Botham’s murder. Shaun has become more than another voice for our family. He has become our friend. He has advocated for the Jean family, spoke up for us, dried our tears and held our hands. We are grateful for his support as are many other families who have met him. In this photo Shaun King welcomed our family into his home to do what he does best — nourish.”
I am the keynote speaker for the Botham Jean Foundation in two weeks. I regularly travel and speak for families in any capacity I can and have done so for years. I am never paid for this work. Dozens of families said as much here.
Just yesterday, apparently searching on Facebook for people talking about the report, DeRay asked if the people posting actually read his piece. Here was the reply from one of the most respected organizers in Louisiana, Gary Chambers.
Gary Chambers continued in his response to DeRay….
My point is this — the criticisms of DeRay are abundant and severe. I was organizing with local activists in Los Angeles this past year, and out loud, the organizers literally said “anybody in the nation is welcome here, but DeRay.” Everybody in the room agreed without interruption and the meeting moved forward.
The complaints on DeRay are legion and easy to find. The actual work that he does, the actual families that he helps — those are like “Where’s Waldo.” I can’t find any of it. It’s why it makes him attacking my fundraising for people and causes so peculiar.
I’ve actually helped families impacted by police violence. I’ve literally helped lead an organization that is electing new district attorneys across the country. I’ve helped to raise millions of dollars for charities and causes. His lack of a demonstrable record makes him a poor critic of mine.
Here I will spend time directly addressing many of DeRay’s blatantly false allegations. (NOTE: Again, today is a day that I am supposed to be doing actual work, or spending time with my family, but it is now another day I am spent doing something altogether different. )
- DeRay began his op-ed, and the promotion of the op-ed, by focusing directly on my fundraising and literally calling me a thief.
Let me be clear here: fuck you, DeRay, for saying such a thing. I don’t say that lightly. You are literally accusing me of a crime. Stealing from families or fundraisers is not just shady, it’s a felony. Do you remember the couple that said they were raising money for a homeless man, but it turned out they were spending it on themselves? They are literally in prison right now — sentenced to over 10 years in prison.
Never, have I ever stolen or spent a single penny from a fundraiser or family or cause or charity and not a single person on earth says otherwise. You are literally making this up. Doing so is libel. It is misinformation. It is a lie. It damages my actual life. If you called me a thief to my face, we would fight. You wouldn’t understand all of the effort and energy I’ve put in to raising funds for families and causes and campaigns because you don’t do it yourself. Your world and your work primarily revolves around you.
I’ve had countless families and activists and organizers reach out to me this week saying they begged you to help them in their times of need and you didn’t even respond. I include a few of those below. They said you flat out refused to share their fundraisers when they were desperate for support. You’d be hard pressed to find a single family whose case of police violence or bigotry was widely known where I was not one of the primary fundraisers for them, including the following 30 families I’ve supported:
Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Monroe Bird, Corey Jones, EJ Bradford, Stephon Clark, Chikesia Clemons, Botham Jean, Terence Crutcher, Antwon Rose, DaQuan Huey, L’Daijohnique Lee, Hannah Williams, DeAndre Harris, O’Shae Terry, Symone Marshall, Darwin Oliver, Charleena Lyles, Joshua Upshaw, Natalie Romero, Gregory Hill, Nia Wilson, Crystal Mason, Radazz Hearns, Chad Merrill, Pedro Hernandez, Bianca Roberson, James Means, and so many more.
I actually don’t think you helped us in a single one of those. You never do.
In each of those fundraisers for our people, I was one of the primary fundraisers — if not the primary fundraiser — and worked my ass off to raise financial support and awareness for these families. Each and every one of those families or their attorneys openly says so right here in the report. Many of those names won’t be familiar to DeRay, but I know them, know their families, know their attorneys, and take great pride in knowing that in their most difficult moment, we were able to give them some measure of relief.
I never claimed to have raised every dollar accounted for in the report. The report repeatedly states that I helped raise the funds. Many times the families say in the report that I was the primary fundraiser for them. And I was.
I have an email list of nearly 500,000 people that I have built since 1999. I regularly emailed my base about supporting these fundraisers. And they are some of the most generous people in the world. I shared the fundraisers, sometimes obsessively so, dozens of times on Twitter and Facebook. We included many of those links here. My posts were normally the most shared, most viewed, most clicked posts about these fundraisers. We checked. And I shared them until we hit a goal the family or attorneys set for me. Sometimes I’d take off of work to just push the fundraisers all day and night. I would miss deadlines and assignments and precious time with my family doing so. And I have paid a personal and professional price for it.
Never, did I have access to a single one of those funds and not a single family or attorney says otherwise — it’s just you and Twitter — in an echo chamber — insisting that you know better than these actual families. Shame on you. Again, stealing from a single one of them would be a crime. Not a single one of them has ever said this has happened. Not a single fundraising platform has said it has happened. It’s literally just Twitter.
2. DeRay released his op-ed moments before the Diamond Ball as if he had a new beef, or new findings, or something new to say, that just could not be held back, but then spent the first half of his Medium article detailing the finances of a short-lived project I launched from 2014.
I have been organizing people and projects for my entire adult life. I turn 40 on Tuesday. I’m a grown ass man. I’ve been organizing virtually non-stop for 23 years.
In 2014, after the murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, John Crawford, and Tamir Rice, I saw a trend. I still see it to this day. I saw millions upon millions of frustrated people, all over the country, and all around the world, who wanted to do something about police brutality and injustice in the United States, but they didn’t know what to do or how to do it. Our collective outrage was ON TEN, but our collective organizing just wasn’t. Local organizing was sometimes strong, but the outrage was next level. So I wanted to find a way to organize complete strangers, online, and leverage them for both online and offline actions. It was a beautiful concept. I still love it and we do a version of this now with Real Justice and with our Flip The Senate campaign, but on a much smaller scale.
But I simply could not find a way to do it, without trolls, white supremacists, and impostors finding their way in as well. Trust me, I tried again and again and again. Over 50,000 people signed up to volunteer. I split them into states. With large states, I split them into cities. With college students I split them into campuses. And at first, I thought it was going to work, but as conflicts began to arise in city groups, or state groups, or college groups, it became almost impossible to manage.
I tried to get people to jump through some identity verification groups, and it helped some, but I would literally see things I was posting in private groups we formed later posted on white supremacist message boards.
Mind you, I did all of this for free, never receiving a salary or income for it, while I was working full time for Daily Kos and later for The New York Daily News. And I just could not manage it well.
Between the demands from my family and my actual places of employment, it became too much for me to manage, and I shut the whole operation down. It was a very difficult decision. I worked for hundreds of hours to pull it off, but just had not accounted for the complications that followed. I was deeply concerned about people’s safety and did not want anyone nefarious who had invaded the groups to eventually be meeting with people in their own homes. I consulted countless advisors before shutting it all down, and everyone agreed that the work was a great idea that was nearly impossible for me to execute. We also agreed that the potential safety risks were just too high.
We hardly raised any money whatsoever for these efforts and returned every single dollar that was ever given online. 100% of it. We did not file taxes for the organization because every dollar that was given online was returned.
When we produced this financial report 2 weeks ago, Stripe, who was the original payment processor, confirmed that every single donation that was given online was returned the same month the organization was shut down in 2015. That total was $15,580 combined from 2014 & 2015.
A single donor gave $10,000 to help partially cover the monthly costs of our email services and website. For instance, my monthly email services this month alone from MailChimp were $2,880.
This literally accounts for every dollar mentioned by DeRay that was ever raised. This is not new. This was in the report. It represents a microscopic bit of the funds I have raised, but it was well-accounted for years ago.
Justice Together did fail. It is true. I spoke about this at great length four years ago. It was an experimental idea, launched in good faith, that I simply could not effectively manage. I privately owned this failure and I publicly own the failure today.
The lessons that I learned from those early failures in 2014 & 2015 are the very things that make the work I do now at Real Justice, at The North Star, at The Action PAC, and with our Flip The Senate campaign so effective.
I do not manage the finances for any of those organizations. I do not manage the day to day staff of those organizations. I do not create the FEC reports or budgets or P&L statements for any of those organizations; instead we have hired brilliant, experienced women and men who do that work as well as anybody in the nation.
From my failures in 2014 & 2015, I have simply learned that while I am a gifted starter and a tenacious fundraiser, that I must be just one small part of a larger team that shares the load.
All of the projects that I am a part of, and the primary fundraiser for, now have a combined staff of nearly 40 people and they are the most diligent, skilled, compassionate teams I have ever been a part of.
I don’t know how else to say this, but I earnestly, sincerely apologize to every single person who was disappointed by the failure of my organizing in 2014 & 2015 with Justice Together. I said as much back then. I’m saying it again now. I meant it then. I mean it now. I have never been slow to apologize where I have done wrong. Quite the opposite.
3. DeRay says “the numbers don’t add up” and in doing so suggested the people of Standing Rock are committing fraud.
If you take the total amount listed in the statement and match it against the numbers in the actual fundraisers that have been linked to, there are two different amounts.
For instance, the Dakota Access Pipeline — Cash item listed in the August 30th statement is at $388,000 but the link listed has the amount at $378,402. This is one of many misattributions in the report.
DeRay did little to actually help the people of Standing Rock. I spent nearly two full months of my life raising funds and direct aid for them. Chase Iron Eyes, who was born there, and is one of the most respected leaders there, partnered with my efforts there and wrote a beautiful statement about our work. I helped to raise $378,402 in cash here for the people of Standing Rock in one online fundraiser. In his letter, Chase Iron Eyes stated that the total raised was $388,000. Some of the donations were given offline. That’s it. That’s the discrepancy DeRay suggests is fraud. We then raised over $2 million in direct aid for Standing Rock that was sent there as well. It was an enormous undertaking.
DeRay, seeing that the fundraising page says $378,402, but that Chase said $388,000, used this as weird chance to suggest fraud from Standing Rock. The $9,598 difference there was just money raised apart from the online fundraiser. Again, I had no access to any of those funds. It’s not an example of bad math, or money not adding up, or fraud.
DeRay never reached out to Chase Iron Eyes to clarify this, but instead threw him under the bus. It’s awful. But again, clarity was not DeRay’s goal here.
4. DeRay said that The Action PAC paid for Facebook ads to support the promotion of the fundraising report that issued and that doing so was some type of fraud.
It was $3 and was done so in error. It was stopped immediately when it was discovered. It was reimbursed immediately.
5. DeRay says that the 72 page financial report on my fundraising claimed to cover 2013, but left out financial data for funds I raised from 2013.
This is a lie. The report clearly and repeatedly states that it covered every fundraiser I participated in from August of 2014 after the murder of Mike Brown until August of 2019 when the report was issued.
Here is the first paragraph from that report. Look at the first sentence of the first paragraph where it clearly states the timeline of the report.
I publicly raised funds for hundreds of causes online in every year of my life from 2007 forward. The public report was for my fundraising from 2014–2019 and repeatedly stated that.
What’s wild is that our team literally said to each other when we issued the report that even though all of the public accusations were for funds raised during the Black Lives Matter Movement, that as soon as we issued it, someone like DeRay would say, well, what about 2009 or 2011 or 2013?
The report stated that I never received any income for my fundraising from 2014–2019 other than my $50,000 per year salary from Real Justice.
DeRay said this is a lie. It is not.
I don’t know how much clearer we can be than saying the report was not about 1979–2013, but was about 2014–2019. That’s the range we chose because that’s what the public accusations were.
6. DeRay erroneously stated that I raised funds in 2016–2017 for a project we called The Injustice Boycott and never accounted for it.
Shaun began the Injustice Boycott in December 2016, on the 61st anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, as a coordinated effort to boycott cities that engaged in practices against the interests of people of color.
He fundraised for the organization, as people noted that they donated. Needless to say, the organization did not accomplish any boycotts, sustained actions, or have any recognizable impact.
Nearly 80,000 people joined the mailing list for the initiative, but there were no boycotts.
The Injustice Boycott does not appear at all in the most recent accounting offered by Shaun King.
DeRay told multiple lies here. He confuses his lack of knowledge of our work for lack of work. First off, The Injustice Boycott was never an organization and we never raised funds for it. DeRay says the accounting for it has disappeared. Again, we never raised funds for it.
It was a grassroots, people driven project designed to help support work in Standing Rock, which we mentioned above — we raised over $2 million in support for Standing Rock; New York City — to pass legislation called Raise The Age, which actually passed, and I received awards for; and in Seattle to help the city council there pass legislation banning the local government use of banks or funds that supported private prisons or the fossil fuel industry. That legislation passed.
I am immensely proud of what the project accomplished. It should be noted that Heather Heyer, who was later killed in Charlottesville, was a part of this team.
7. DeRay says that when I am challenged on these fundraisers that I default to blaming white supremacists or trolls or conservatives.
That’s because the three initial lies that I was stealing from families impacted by police violence literally came from white supremacists and have continued every since.
Days after the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, I began raising money for the family through a fundraiser that they set up. The same day I began sharing it, white supremacist trolls started saying that I was stealing money. I was genuinely stumped. You have to almost go back in time to that moment. The movement was new. I was already a well-known leader, but having people say I was stealing the money threw me for a major loop. Of course, I never had access to the account or the funds. But I had the peace of mind of knowing that I worked hard to support the family. I did so more than once.
Fake articles and tweets saying I stole money from the family of Eric Garner spiraled so far out of control, that my dear friend, Erica Garner, posted this.
Over and over again the family of Eric Garner including his children, his wife, and his mother, all of whom are my personal friends, have had to post online and speak to people offline to refute these lies. In 2014 & 2015 it was literally just white supremacists and ultra conservatives posting these lies. Then it became moderate white folk, then liberal white folk, and then liberal Black folk, sometimes spreading the exact memes and fabrications that first started with white supremacists. The same thing happened to the first fundraiser I promoted for the family of Tamir Rice. The attorneys for his family address that here.
8. DeRay said that I previously stated I only raised $15,000 for Bree Newsome, but later stated I raised more.
In 2015, Shaun defended himself against claims that he misappropriated funds from those meant for Bree Newsome. He wrote, “In total, $125,705 was raised from 4,943 people. Shaun estimates that his efforts were probably responsible for somewhere near a relatively small $15,000 of the total amount raised.” But now, in the latest “report” he takes credit for 100% of those funds raised.
First off, please notice that in 2015 I was having to defend myself against lies that I stole funds raised for Bree Newsome — another complete fabrication. Again, I never had access to those funds. This previous statement was about $15,000 from wealthy donors who wrote me privately to pledge to give to her. They did give her these funds. I then shared her public fundraiser with my donor list and across my social media, to help raise the additional amount raised.
Here is her attorney, Todd Rutherford, about the fundraiser for Bree and another of his clients. (As a sidenote, I also helped to arrange for Todd Rutherford to represent Bree.)
“Shaun was an essential driving force behind each of these fundraisers for a young student assaulted by a police officer in her school and the activist Bree Newsome after she took down the Confederate flag in South Carolina. Shaun never, for a single moment, had access to the funds, the accounts, or the websites that my clients used to raise the funds. He did the work for the love of it. I was honestly surprised to see how much time and energy and effort Shaun put into those fundraisers. He never asked for or even hinted at receiving anything in return. My clients simply would not have raised that much money had Shaun not pushed so hard for them.”
9. DeRay listed fundraisers, including a large one for RAICES Texas, a leading immigration advocacy group, saying that I did not help with the fundraiser.
This is a lie. I did not want to disclose this publicly, but two staffers from RAICES are literally administrators on my Twitter and Facebook pages. They post at will without ever needing approval from me. I trust and love them. One is my dear friend, Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy, for RAICES. Here is a statement from Erika. I am not paid for this, but do it for the love — mainly because I know I have a larger platform than they do and I know they understand the immigrant rights movement far better than I do. Here is her statement. DeRay left that out.
Shaun King has been incredibly supportive of all the work I’ve done in the immigrant rights movement, including these fundraisers. I can also speak on behalf of RAICES and assure anyone that we have never paid you for your support. We’re very grateful for all your help regularly sharing actions, events, and fundraisers on all of your platforms.
Appreciate you brother,
Erika Andiola, Chief of Advocacy, RAICES
10. DeRay erroneously stated that I worked to silence the Black queer activist Clarissa Brooks.
This is a lie. This past January, Clarissa tweeted the following:
When Clarissa Brooks asked if people were going to “hold me accountable” for money I raised for Cyntoia Brown — then asked if that money was going to disappear as well, two lies were told.
- I never raised money for Cyntoia Brown. Didn’t even know she had a fundraiser. Never had funds for her to keep in the first place. It was a fabrication that seemed to have started with Clarissa Brooks. This notion that Clarissa was just asking a friendly question about funds I raised is wrong. I never raised funds for Cyntoia Brown to be held accountable for them.
- She then asked a rhetorical question about other funds I’ve raised for families that have disappeared. Again, this has literally never happened.
I never aimed to silence Clarissa, or anyone for that matter, but it was very important for me that she delete her false accusation and then publicly retract it by stating that it was erroneous. It was. It caused actual damage to my life. After she posted it, and it was retweeted, people screenshot it and posted it across social media, people made their own statements about it, all demanding that I give Cyntoia Brown’s family the money that I raised for them. To this day I still have people ask me about this money, but I never raised it. All we asked for was a retraction. Period.
I have to bring this to a close. I have now lost an entire Saturday with my family to do so. I do not mean this as a slight, but DeRay does not have a spouse or five children. DeRay does not run a company or a PAC. DeRay does not provide direct assistance to families impacted by police brutality. DeRay does not advocate for any presidential candidates or district attorneys races.
I do these things seven days a week. And I must get back to work. We must all get back to work.
As hard as this might be for DeRay or for anyone else, I again state that I am willing to meet with him, or anyone else, publicly or privately, to try to resolve matters if they have a sincere conflict with me.