The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has issued a statement following an email sent by its former president calling the Black Lives Matter organization “a hate movement.”
The L.A. Times published an article on Monday detailing the email, which was reportedly sent on Sunday. According to the Times, former HFPA president and current member Phil Berk sent a message to the HFPA’s members quoting an article that called the Black Lives Matter organization a “racist hate movement” and singled out its co-founder, Patrisse Cullors, as a “self-proclaimed trained Marxist.” Several HFPA members responded in objection to the email.
In response to the Times article and Berk’s email, the HFPA board sent Variety the following statement: “Since its inception, the HFPA has dedicated itself to bridging cultural connections and creating further understanding of different backgrounds through film and TV. The views expressed in the article circulated by Mr. Berk are those of the author of the article and do not — in any way shape or form — reflect the views and values of the HFPA. The HFPA condemns all forms of racism, discrimination and hate speech and finds such language and content unacceptable.”
In addition, a source close to the HFPA tells Variety that the board is discussing taking action against Berk and will continue to discuss doing so in upcoming meetings. Representatives for Berk declined Variety‘s request for comment on the matter.
Berk’s email comes just under two months after controversy surrounding the diversity of the HFPA’s membership, after it came to light that the group had not contained any Black members in over two decades. The HFPA also came under fire for paying large sums to members for serving on committees and accepting lavish junket trips. The revelation resulted in a flurry of backlash aimed at the organization’s Golden Globes awards show, with many celebrities posting on social media to express their disappointment. The HFPA has since committed to add at least 13 Black members to its ranks.