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'Black Lives Matter Foundation' Unaffiliated With BLM Movement Causes Confusion In Donations

SANTA CLARITA (CBSLA) -- Money has been raised for an organization bearing a similar name but a different mission from the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement decrying police brutality and injustice nationwide.

The news was first reported on Monday by BuzzFeed News.

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. The group states on its official website that its mission is "to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes."

The Black Lives Matter Foundation, a Santa Clarita-based organization registered in 2015, is unaffiliated with the BLM movement.

According to a public 2017 tax filing, the Foundation states that its goal is to "use our unique and creative ideas to help bring the police and the community closer together to save lives."

"Our whole goal is to find a way to bring the community and the police together so that we can live in harmony with the police," the Foundation's founder Robert Ray Barnes said to CBS2. "I'm proud of what we do. I'm not ashamed of it."

Barnes, an African American man, said to BuzzFeed that BLM had "stolen" the idea and name from him.

"I have never heard one word from anybody from Black Lives Matter," Barnes said to CBS2.

Barnes said he launched the Foundation in response to the death of his wife's ex-husband allegedly at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department.

He told CBS2 that the money he raises gets distributed to other charities but that the Foundation itself has not created any programs in its name.

Barnes did not disclose to CBS2 how much money the Foundation has received but he said he would return any money that wasn't intended for his Foundation.

"If someone did not want to donate to me, then I would gladly return it," Barnes said to CBS2. "People have sent me checks that say 'Black Lives Matter,' it doesn't say the 'Foundation' and I send it back."

Donation management platform Benevity, a site that connects large corporations like Google and Apple to charities, added a disclaimer on its website that the Foundation is not associated with the BLM movement. The page on which the disclaimer was posted is no longer active.

GoFundMe sent CBS2 a statement on Monday, saying funds sent to the Foundation have been placed on hold.

"One-hundred and eighty campaigns have recently raised money for the Black Lives Matter Foundation, raising $350,000. GoFundMe placed all funds on hold and we working with PayPal and the campaign organizers to ensure all of the money raised is transferred to the Black Lives Matter movement via their fiscal sponsor," GoFundMe said.

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles did not immediately respond to CBS2's request for comment on Monday night.

(Editor's note: a previous version of this story stated Benevity hosted a fundraiser for the Foundation, which was inaccurate.)

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