Non-profit

Black Visions Collective

Website:

www.blackvisionsmn.org

Location:

Minneapolis, MN

Formation:

2017

Type:

Far-Left Activist Organization

Director:

Kandace Montgomery

Fiscal Sponsor:

TakeAction Minnesota

Black Visions Collective (Black Visions) is a radical-left activist organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota that focuses on racial and transgender issues. Since the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police in mid-2020, the organization has focused efforts on defunding the city police.

Founded in 2017, Black Visions and its sister organization, the political organization Reclaim the Block, received an enormous surge in donations in the wake of protests related to the death of George Floyd in 2020. There is an overlap of staff and leadership in the two groups, and members of the Minneapolis community who initially supported Black Visions Collective’s mission have raised questions about whether any substantial distinction exists between the two groups other than their names.[1] Initially funded by TakeAction Minnesota, which is its fiscal sponsor, Black Visions and Reclaim the Block have garnered over $30 million in donations since June 2020. It is also a Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation grantee.[2]

Activism

On February 4, 2018, Black Visions organized the blockade of a Minneapolis light rail station near U.S Bank Stadium for over an hour. The protest took place a few hours before the Super Bowl was scheduled to begin at the stadium, and protested the city’s allocation of funds to host the event. Organizers also demanded a shift in funding from the city’s police force to community organizations. The protests resulted in 17 arrests.[3]

Following the death of George Floyd in 2020, Black Visions and Reclaim the Block harassed Mayor Jacob Frey (D) and members of the Minneapolis city council at their homes, attempting to gain access to the houses, planting paper gravestones on members’ lawns, and publishing private cell phone numbers. One council member reported hearing the activists moving outside her window at 3 a.m. This pressure was reportedly brought to bear because council members did not agree within 24 hours to Black Vision’s demand to defund the city’s police force.[4]

Funding Controversy and Open Letter

During a meeting on June 9, 2020 in which a small group of local protesters requested funds for protective gear, community members raised questions about the Black Visions’ fundraising and funding distribution.[5] Black Visions spokesperson Yolanda Hare refused to give specific answers regarding the exact amount of donations the group had received. When asked if Black Visions was willing to donate some of its funds for rent assistance or to purchase air conditioners for poor Minneapolis residents, Hare stated that although Black Visions was still determining how to distribute money to members of the local community, but its primary concern was to finance its employees who were doing policy work relevant to its core mission of defunding the police.[6]

After a private request for a community meeting was denied, community members sent an email to Black Visions demanding a public meeting during which Black Visions Collective would make public the scope of its funding and future plans. Following this exchange, Black Visions released a public statement announcing a plan to shift a portion of its funds to Nexus Community Partners to help distribute grants.[7]

Still dissatisfied with these responses, the group released an open letter criticizing Black Visions and Reclaim the Block, questioning whether they are the same group with two different names, citing an overlap in staff and leadership.[8]

Funding

According to its website, by summer 2021 Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block had received over $30 million in combined donations. Much of this funding arose after the Minnesota Freedom Fund halted donation receipts and encouraged donors to support Black Visions/Reclaim the Block and the Twin Cities Justice for Jamar campaign.[9]

Black Visions has received an enormous increase in support following endorsement from celebrities including Lizzo and Fallout Boy, with the latter donating $100,000 to be shared between Black Visions and National Bail Out.[10] Black Visions was also the sole beneficiary of proceeds from a compilation album entitled “Talk-Action=Zero” which featured 100 songs by lesser-known artists such as Superchunk and Prism Tats.[11] In September 2019, Black Visions received a $28,000 grant from left-of-center tech grantmaking organization Voqal.[12]

Grants and Initiatives

The Transformative Black-Led Movement Fund (TBLMF) is Black Visions Collective’s grantmaking partnership with Nexus Community Partners. It was formed to more effectively distribute some of its excess resources following concerns regarding the speed and efficiency with which money was being disbursed. TBLMF closed grant applications on November 23, 2020 after allocating $7.1 million to 121 grantees.[13]

Yes 4 Minneapolis (Yes4MN) is a campaign to dismantle the Minneapolis police department and replace it with a “new department of public safety.”[14] Because the Minneapolis city charter requires a standing police force, the group’s first step is to amend that charter, and on April 30, 2021 Yes4MN submitted over 20,000 signatures to the city council to call for a vote on this amendment.[15]

Black Visions reports that it has donated over $1 million in donations to individuals “for mutual and legal aid,” and $6 million in grants to “organizations, collectives, artists, healers, [and] organizers.” Among other groups, grants have been awarded to SEIU Local 26, Black Immigrant Collective, and the LGBT/climate change/immigration activist group Unidos (also known as Navigate Minnesota).[16]

Founders

Kandace Montgomery is co-founder and director of both Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block, as well as the former lead organizer of Black Lives Matter Global Network.[17] In 2013, she was an employee of TakeAction Minnesota, the fiscal sponsor of Black Visions.[18] In 2015 she helped organize a Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter following the death of Jamar Clark. Montgomery’s efforts to “defund” the Minneapolis police departments by shifting over $1 million to efforts like the Office of Violence Prevention preceded an upsurge in violent crime in that city. However, Montgomery dismisses the rise in crime as a “myth” intended to cast aspersion on the groups’ efforts. Montgomery is on record as stating her goal is “transitioning completely away” from policing “across the country and across the globe.”[19]

Miski Noor is a writer, as well as an organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter-Minneapolis. Noor was a staffer for then-Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) working in the areas of foreign affairs, immigration, and Muslim outreach.[20]

In an April 2021 interview, Noor stated that she believed the way forward to achieve real justice for African Americans was the complete abolition of the police. Noor then went on to describe an ideal organizational model which would utilize groups made up of disparate members such as sex workers, Somali elders, and queer youth, and would import activists to Minnesota from “the U.S. south and the global south.”[21]

Oluchi Omegoa is a transgender activist and frequent spokesperson for Black Visions. In addition to co-founding Black Visions, Omeoga is the co-founder and senior national organizer of the Black LGTBTQ+ Migrant Project (BLMP). In a July 2020 interview with Minnesota Monthly, Omeoga highlighted the gender-activism angle of Black Vision’s work, saying that the organization was rooted in “queer Black feminism.… I want to make sure that the narrative is that these are queer Black women, these are queer Black youth that are doing this work.”[22]

References

  1. Ali, Fadumo et al. “A Public Request for Transparency in Regards to Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.” Docs.Google.com Website. Undated. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-22yeCEZOi9AsUujqDxeW72LQxkK5l1_MWyfh_J_kuA/edit ^
  2. “Impact Report.” Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://blacklivesmatter.com/2020-impact-report/ ^
  3. Georgiades, Niko. “17 Arrested Blockading Light Rail Before Super Bowl LII.” Unicorn Riot. February 5, 2018. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://unicornriot.ninja/2018/17-arrested-blockading-light-rail-super-bowl-lii/ ^
  4. Winter, Deena. “What Happens When a Tiny Police Abolitionist Group Finds itself with $29 Million?” Minnesota Reformer. April 28, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/04/28/what-happens-when-a-tiny-police-abolitionist-group-finds-itself-with-29-million/ ^
  5. Ali, Fadumo et al. “A Public Request for Transparency in Regards to Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.” Docs.Google.com Website. Accessed July 7, 2021.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-22yeCEZOi9AsUujqDxeW72LQxkK5l1_MWyfh_J_kuA/edit ^
  6. Ali, Fadumo et al. “A Public Request for Transparency in Regards to Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.” Docs.Google.com Website. Accessed July 7, 2021.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-22yeCEZOi9AsUujqDxeW72LQxkK5l1_MWyfh_J_kuA/edit ^
  7. Ali, Fadumo et al. “A Public Request for Transparency in Regards to Black Visions Collective and Reclaim The Block.” Docs.Google.com Website. Accessed July 7, 2021.https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-22yeCEZOi9AsUujqDxeW72LQxkK5l1_MWyfh_J_kuA/edit ^
  8. Bromwich, Jonah Engel. “The Minnesota Freedom Fund Has $30 Million and an Identity Crisis.” New York Times. June 16, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/16/style/minnesota-freedom-fund-donations.html ^
  9. Solender, Andrew and Sandler, Rachel. “Minnesota Freedom Fund Raises $20 Million in 4 Days Amid George Floyd Protests.” Forbes. May 30, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/05/30/minnesota-freedom-fund-raises-20-million-in-4-days-amid-george-floyd-protests/?sh=8b62a648a3fb ^
  10. Rose, Anna. “Fall Out Boy Pledge $100,000 in Support of Black Lives Matter.” NME. June 9, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.nme.com/news/music/fall-out-boy-pledge-100000-in-support-of-black-lives-matter-2684122 ^
  11. Marrota, Michael O’Connor. “Talk-Action=Zero Compiles 100 songs for Black Visions Collective.” Vanyaland.  June 8, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://vanyaland.com/2020/06/08/talk-action-zero-compiles-100-songs-for-black-visions-collective/ ^
  12.     “Voqal Invests $252,000 to Advance Social and Racial Equity in Minnesota.”  Voqal. February 13, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021.  https://voqal.org/voqal-invests-252000-to-advance-social-and-racial-equity-in-minnesota/ ^
  13. “Transformative Black-Led Movement Fund.” Nexus Community Partners. Undated. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.nexuscp.org/transformative-black-led-movement-fund/tblmf-grantees/ ^
  14. “Yes 4 Minneapolis.” Black Visions Collective Website. Undated. Accessed July 7, 2021.  https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/yes4mn ^
  15. Du, Susan and Navratil, Liz. “Vote Yes 4 Minneapolis Submits Petition to Remove MPD from Charter.” Star Tribune. April 30, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021.  https://www.startribune.com/vote-yes-4-minneapolis-submits-petition-to-remove-mpd-from-charter/600052192/ ^
  16. “Redistribution.” Black Visions Collective. Accessed July 7, 2021.  https://www.blackvisionsmn.org/redistribution ^
  17. “Black History Month Spotlight: Kandace Montgomery.” Voqal. February 13, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://voqal.org/black-history-month-spotlight-kandace-montgomery/ ^
  18. Winter, Deena. “What Happens When a Tiny Police Abolitionist Group Finds itself with $29 Million?” Minnesota Reformer. April 28, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/04/28/what-happens-when-a-tiny-police-abolitionist-group-finds-itself-with-29-million/ ^
  19. Brown, Alleen. “We Don’t Have Time to Wait: Minneapolis Anti-Police Brutality Organizer Kandace Montgomery on Defunding the Police.” The Intercept. June 5, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://theintercept.com/2020/06/05/defund-the-police-minneapolis-black-visions-collective/       ^
  20. Kwan, Okhee. “Left Voice Speaks with BLM-Minneapolis.” Left Voice.  January 4, 2016. Accessed July 7, 2021.  https://www.leftvoice.org/Left-Voice-Speaks-with-BLM-Minneapolis/ ^
  21. Herman, Alice. “’Justice Looks Like Abolition’: A Minneapolis Organizer on the Chauvin Verdict.” In These Times. April 22, 2021. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://inthesetimes.com/article/derek-chauvin-verdict-george-floyd-minneapolis-black-lives-matter-police-abolition ^
  22. Shaver, Amital. “How Black Visions Collective is Sustaining a Revolution.” Minnesota Monthly. July 6, 2020. Accessed July 7, 2021. https://www.minnesotamonthly.com/lifestyle/business-politics/how-black-visions-collective-is-sustaining-a-revolution/ ^
  See an error? Let us know!

Black Visions Collective


Minneapolis, MN