Sacramento Black Lives Matter activists form new group, separate from founder Tanya Faison

More than a dozen current and former members of Black Lives Matter Sacramento have formed their own group as they further separate themselves from the chapter’s well-known founder, Tanya Faison.

Citing “patterns of abuse” that drove away all members except three, the group last week announced plans to oust Faison.

Faison is the only person with access to the Black Lives Matter Sacramento social media accounts and continues to post from those accounts. As a result, the new group changed its name to “Sacramento for Black Lives.”

The new group’s board voted to terminate Faison from her position as “black liberation director,” and she received her last check from the California Endowment Friday, said Ben Hudson Jr., executive director of the Sacramento-based Gender Health Center. The nonprofit is the organization’s fiscal sponsor, meaning the grant money flows through it until the organization achieves nonprofit status, Hudson has said.

The two-year grant for $100,000 from the California Endowment, which was awarded recently, will continue to flow to Sacramento For Black Lives, not Faison’s group, Hudson said. The group has not yet named a person to replace Faison, but it will not just be one person, said Sonia Lewis, a long-standing member of Black Lives Matter.

“Ultimately, we’ve been operating for four years with one person in control of everything and this has led to this major failure,” Lewis said. “We won’t make that mistake again of putting one person in charge of everything.”

Lewis’s group has 15 members now, and is planning to keep recruiting and holding community meetings to rebuild trust.

Meanwhile, Faison is still running Black Lives Matter Sacramento and has recruited new members.

Faison did not immediately return a call seeking comment Friday, but posted to Black Lives Matter Sacramento’s pages Wednesday: “I do not plan on stepping down from this chapter,” Faison wrote on Twitter Wednesday. “This work, the families, and the greater Black Sacramento community is my first priority. I will continue to keep fighting for justice in our city. I’m glad these issues have been brought to my attention; it allows me to make positive changes within myself so that I can do this work more effectively.”

The chapter received national attention in the aftermath of the Stephon Clark shooting in March 2018. Faison has been the public face of the organization since 2015, appearing on CNN and other national media outlets.

Sacramento for Black Lives (@BlackSacramento), created May 31, had 74 Twitter followers as of Friday. Black Lives Matter Sacramento (@BLMSacramento) had 7,623.

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Theresa Clift covers Sacramento City Hall. Before joining The Bee in 2018, she worked as a local government reporter for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Daily Press in Virginia and the Wausau Daily Herald in Wisconsin. She grew up in Michigan and graduated from Central Michigan University.