The People's City Council of Los Angeles launched in 2020 with a pledge to support the Black Lives Matter movement, attracting a flurry of large-dollar donations in the process. After years of fundraising inactivity, the self-described "abolitionist" group is now using its budget to target local Jewish leaders.
The council—which bills itself as an "abolitionist, anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist collective"—raised more than $2.5 million in the summer of 2020 thanks to a viral GoFundMe campaign to support BLM protesters. But the group never registered as a nonprofit or reported how it spent the money, prompting the California Department of Justice to bar it from raising and disbursing funds last year.
That decision did not stop the People's City Council from participating in the infamous Thanksgiving Day attack on AIPAC president Michael Tuchin's Los Angeles home, which saw far-left activists throw smoke grenades, scatter fake blood and infant body bags, and display signs saying, "FUCK UR HOLIDAY BABY KILLER!" After posting videos of the scene on social media, the group in a Monday statement defended the "protest," saying it will "keep applying pressure to any entity complicit" in Israeli "violence." Los Angeles police are investigating the incident as a hate crime involving "assault with a deadly weapon," a spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon.
The People's City Council's pivot from BLM supporter to anti-Semitic agitator aligns the group with local BLM chapters across the country. BLM Chicago, for example, posted graphics in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 assault on Israel that said the terrorist group had the "legal right to resist." Black Lives Matter Grassroots, which represents 26 BLM chapters, similarly justified Hamas's terror attack as a "desperate act of self-defense."
The newfound attention the People's City Council has attracted over its role in the Tuchin attack, meanwhile, could land it in hot water over its financial reporting failures. The group's inability to raise funds and lack of nonprofit status, experts say, likely warrant further investigation for tax violations given the significant amount of money it appears to control.
"The People’s City Council of LA has as sketchy a financial situation as is possible for an activist group to have," said Parker Thayer, investigative researcher for the Capital Research Center, adding that the lack of financial disclosures by a group that has raised millions is "unprecedented." Paul Kamenar, counsel to the watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center in Washington, D.C., echoed Thayer's assessment, saying that because the group appears to be "in violation of California charity laws," it could face hefty fines.
Neither the People's City Council's founders, Ricci Sergienko and Albert Corado, nor the California Justice Department responded to requests for comment.
The People’s City Council formed in 2020 shortly after the death of George Floyd catapulted BLM to national prominence. The group quickly raised more than $2.5 million through a viral GoFundMe campaign that promised support for injured or arrested BLM protesters. Large-dollar donations poured in, including one totaling $20,000. Campaign backers ranged from Greek houses at USC and UCLA to small businesses.
The group quickly pledged "transparency and accountability" over its use of the funds. In June 2020, it announced it was "immediately transferring" $300,000 to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and another $300,000 to the left-wing National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles. The group said it earmarked another $150,000 to secure bail for protesters.
It's unclear if the group followed through on those promises. Neither Black Lives Matter Los Angeles nor the National Lawyers Guild of Los Angeles are required to report their donors. The groups did not respond to requests for comment.
Shortly thereafter, Corado posted that his group had started sending out "some of the over $2 million" it raised, adding that he would give "periodic updates about those payments as they happen." That was Corado's last GoFundMe update, and the People’s City Council website does not offer any insight into the group’s financial activities.
Amid the success of its first GoFundMe, the People’s City Council launched a separate fundraising push that brought in more than $55,000 for a "general fund." That money, the group said, would help it "independently" raise funds and boost its local political advocacy.
Both of those GoFundMe campaigns are now disabled. The last donation to the group's general fund was two years ago.
The AIPAC chief’s home wasn’t the group's only target over the Thanksgiving holiday. The People’s City Council also protested at one of L.A.’s largest shopping centers on Black Friday, touting its "disruption" of a major commercial center. On Tuesday, the group likened its "struggle" to that of the Palestinians, saying Los Angeles police are "using Israeli software to track our phones and social medias." One day later, it likened Israel's military to the Ku Klux Klan.
"LAPD KKK IDF THEYRE ALL THE SAME," the group wrote.