Santa Clarita man responds to confusion about his Black Lives Matter Foundation

Ray Barnes stands with the award he won for one of his documentary films made through the Peaceful Warriors Foundation. Caleb Lunetta / The Signal.
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Ray Barnes, a 67-year-old Canyon Country resident, said Monday that he wanted to clarify some of the confusion that has been circulating around his charity, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, following a Buzzfeed News article that was published about it.

The article published by the national media outlet states that companies across the country, as well as individuals, have confused two organizations: Barnes’ Black Lives Matter Foundation and the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, which is associated with the national organization Black Lives Matter.

Millions of dollars, the Buzzfeed article says, have been raised — but are now frozen — that were meant to be donated to the Global Network Foundation. However, a large portion of those funds almost wound up going to the Black Lives Matter Foundation, an organization started out of Barnes’ Santa Clarita home.

While the Global Network Foundation is associated with the national Black Lives Matter movement and its efforts to organize local community activists protesting violence by police in minority communities, the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Barnes said in an interview with The Signal on Monday, is designed to bring the community and its local police force together in dialogue.

The mission of Barnes’ Black Lives Matter Foundation, according to the nonprofit’s most recent 990 filing, is “to help survivors and families that have suffered from the loss of a relative or a loved one as a result of an unjust or questionable police shooting, and use our unique and creative ideas to help bring the police and the community closer together to save lives.”

In the article by BuzzFeed News, Barnes says, he’s painted as a “police apologist” and he disputes the claim by the Black Lives Matter Global Network that he is “improperly using” the Black Lives Matter name.

“(The article) makes it look like I’m an apologist from the police … that’s not true,” said Barnes, adding that the catalyst for creating the foundation was the death of his wife’s ex-husband, allegedly at the hands of Los Angeles police. “But we’ve got to do something that changes the relationship between the community and the police. If you have an eye for an eye, you just end up with everybody blind.”

“So, it’s got to be a different approach that you can bring the police and the community better together so that they can serve the community better.”

Although he has yet to execute many of his ideas, they include things such as after-school programs for students, coffee with a cop, and other community engagement activities.

“My timeline (for creating the programs) has always been based on what our funding would be, because you can see these are programs that you have to have enough money to start and to continue it, or then it dies,” said Barnes.

Since his organization was founded in 2015, Barnes said he has sponsored documentary films about black and white veterans through an organization called the Peaceful Warriors Foundation, to which he’s donated a few hundred thousand dollars, he said on Tuesday.

A 2017 financial statement available to the public showed that the Black Lives Matter Foundation had approximately $200,000 in assets declared, but he said the foundation has raised more money since then.

The Buzzfeed News article says a number of companies, including Apple and Microsoft, and their employees were prepared to donate approximately $4 million to the Black Lives Matter Foundation, confusing Barnes’ organization with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. Barnes said he had not set up those fundraisers or solicited money from those companies.

Barnes said his organization and the Black Lives Matter Global Network are completely unrelated, and that he was not attempting to generate funds by confusing the two organizations.

Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station officials said on Tuesday that they had not heard of Barnes’ foundation, and they had not opened an investigation into it.

Officials from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation could not be reached for comment as of the publication of this story.

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