Activists put pressure on LACMA to remove billionaire prison-phone investor from board

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Owner of the Detroit Pistons Tom Gores throws a miniature basketball to fans during a pre-season game between the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Oct. 7, 2019. (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Owner of the Detroit Pistons Tom Gores throws a miniature basketball to fans during a pre-season game between the Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Oct. 7, 2019. (Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

Activists have been pressuring Tom Gores ever since his private equity firm bought one of the nation’s largest prison phone companies. They have lobbied legislators, tried to squelch investments in his company, and now, with social justice in the fore, are bringing the fight to the Los Angeles billionaire’s social circles.

Leveraging demands for criminal-justice reform that have erupted since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, two groups sent a letter last week to LACMA Director Michael Govan and the co-chairs of the museum’s board of trustees demanding that Gores lose his seat on the museum board.

The harshly worded two-page letter accuses Gores of profiting off the “deliberate exploitation of Black, Brown, and economically distressed communities” through his private equity firm’s ownership of Securus Technologies, which Gores’ Platinum Equity acquired in 2017.

“While people across the nation demand racial justice, Tom Gores continues to amass wealth and benefit from a system that exploits Black people and profits from our pain. Put simply, Tom Gores is a prison profiteer and has no place on the board of a prestigious public museum like the LACMA,” stated the Sept. 9 letter sent by Color of Change, an Oakland-based civil rights group formed after Hurricane Katrina, and Worth Rises, a New York nonprofit seeking to “dismantle the prison industrial complex.”

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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