Illinois To Grant $300k to Black Lives Matter Chapter Led by Convicted Felon

Black Lives Matter protesters at Case Western Reserve University / AFP via Getty Images
June 9, 2023

An Illinois Black Lives Matter chapter led by a convicted felon is set to receive $300,000 in taxpayer funds thanks to Democratic governor J.B. Pritzker.

Pritzker signed into law a $50.4 billion state budget bill on Wednesday that includes a $300,000 grant to Black Lives Matter Lake County, a charity led by black activist Clyde McLemore. A prominent figure in the Chicago metropolitan area with ties to Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, McLemore has a lengthy criminal rap sheet that includes convictions for felony aggravated battery. He currently faces a felony bail-jumping charge in Wisconsin stemming from a prior case in which he was charged with kicking down a door and threatening a police officer during the Kenosha riots in August 2020.

Republican members of the Illinois State Assembly railed against Pritzker for choosing not to block the grant with a line-item veto.

"No taxpayer dollars should ever go to Black Lives Matter. They’re clearly a Marxist organization," said Republican state Rep. Blaine Wilhour, the vice chairman of the Illinois Freedom Caucus. Pritzker "could absolutely have gone in there with a line-item veto. Apparently, he sees value in giving $300,000 to Black Lives Matter."

Illinois is set to enrich McLemore’s Black Lives Matter chapter as other groups in the movement flounder amid allegations of financial malfeasance. The national Black Lives Matter group filed tax returns in May showing it had doled out millions in lucrative contracts to friends and family of the movement’s co-founder Patrisse Cullors during its 2022 tax year. The year before, Black Lives Matter spent $12 million on luxury homes in Los Angeles and Toronto.

Wilhour lamented that Pritzker chose to fund the Black Lives Matter chapter while other state programs with a proven record of helping minorities are set to expire. For example, the Invest in Kids Tax Credit Scholarship Program, which has awarded 40,000 scholarships to help minority children in Illinois attend private schools, is scheduled to sunset at the end of 2023.

"What program is helping minorities more?" Wilhour asked. "Is it these opportunity scholarships? Or is it these criminal scumbags and Black Lives Matter?"

McLemore said during a podcast Wednesday he founded Black Lives Matter Lake County in 2015 after meeting with Cullors, who he said was mostly preoccupied with issues related to "black transvestites and gay people and gay rights and stuff." McLemore said he hasn’t talked with Cullors since 2015, and he said his autonomous chapter never received any funds from the national Black Lives Matter group.

The activist stressed during a Thursday interview with the Washington Free Beacon that the $300,000 taxpayer grant his chapter is set to receive will go towards a host of programs it already runs in his community, including a narcotics anonymous program, a youth risk intervention program and a civil empowerment program to teach people about laws.

"This money does not come to Clyde McLemore," he said. "Matter of fact, I’m still driving a 2008 Camry. If I got $300,000, don’t you think I would have bought me a brand-new car?"

But this isn’t the first time Pritzker has tried to enrich McLemore’s Black Lives Matter chapter. The Democratic governor appropriated $300,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds to the group in the state’s fiscal year 2022 budget, but records show Illinois never cut them a check.

McLemore said the grant was canceled because of a February 2022 article in the Lake County Gazette that highlighted his lengthy criminal history.

"They was going to authorize it, and what happened was two Republicans came out with a newspaper and they stopped the grant," McLemore said.

Lake County, Illinois, court records show McLemore has been charged in over 100 traffic, misdemeanor, and felony cases since the mid-1990s. His rap sheet includes convictions of felony and misdemeanor battery.

"So, yeah I had some arguments with my baby mama," McLemore told the Free Beacon. "As you know in Illinois, first one call the police, the other get arrested. I got arrested 20 years ago. She’s been dead over 20 years. She died of a drug overdose."

McLemore was charged in February 2021 with felony battery against a law enforcement officer stemming from his involvement in the riots in Kenosha the year prior. Prior to being charged, McLemore had posted photos and videos on Facebook showing him kicking a door at the Kenosha Public Safety Building during the riots. He wrote that he "was mad enough to try to break the officer’s fingers."

A jury found McLemore not guilty of the charge in December, but found him guilty on a lesser misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. Just a few days later he found himself back in court on a charge of felony bail jumping for allegedly failing to show up to court for another case.

McLemore told the Free Beacon he’s never missed a court date and claimed his attorney told him the bail jumping charge will soon be dropped.

Pritzker’s office did not return a request for comment.