In 2016, organizations in the Black Lives Matter movement received $33 million in grants from the Open Society Foundations, founded by Hungarian hedge fund manager George Soros in 1993, and the Center for American Progress, founded by former White House chief of staff and Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta in 2003.
The Washington Times reported that, in 2016, the Black Lives Matter coalition raised over $100 million from a series of wealthy liberal foundations including The Ford Foundation, in addition to $33 million in grants from the Open Society Foundations, with additional grant-making from the Center for American Progress.
PolitiFact notes that Open Society Foundations previously condemned violence, and claims that Open Society Foundations reiterated this regarding the recent unrest in emails.
Nevertheless, civil unrest continues to spread in the United States, with demonstrations ranging from peaceful protests to riots following the death of George Floyd in police custody, despite the officers involved having been fired and arrested.
Black Lives Matter, as an idea, has become one of the most recognizable displays in support of those participating in the unrest, with corporate brands and cities adopting the #BlackLivesMatter hash tag on social media, and using it to rename streets across the country.
However, the largest Black Lives Matter coalition, the Movement for Black Lives, which Black Lives Matter co-founder Ariel Garza says she does “a lot of work with” and has been credited as “co-founder” of, was a recipient of the fundraising storm in 2016.
The Movement for Black Lives remains active into 2020. The coalition is currently offering advice to protesters, and calling for an abolition of police.
In a document titled “Infiltration and Disinfo,” available on their website, protesters are warned of potential sabotage from “bad actors” that may include members of law enforcement attempting to discredit the protests:
Ongoing protests nationwide highlight the need for vigilance against infiltration by both law enforcement and private bad actors.
Local and federal law enforcement agencies use informants and undercover agents to gather information covertly about movements, organizers, activists, and communities. Gathered information can potentially be used in criminal proceedings and can even include details of actions taken by individuals after being lured or pressured into criminal activity by those very same agents or informants
The document goes on to inform readers that one should never feel obligated to become a federal agent, and offers advice on how to spot and eliminate “bad actors.”
On their website’s About page, the Movement for Black Lives claims to be an “abolitionist” movement, aimed at abolishing police as well as prisons:
We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.
We believe in centering the experiences and leadership of the most marginalized Black people, including but not limited to those who are trans and queer, women and femmes, currently and formerly incarcerated, immigrants, disabled, working class, and poor.
They also suggest a radical transformation of law enforcement similar to the trending idea of defunding and abolishing police:
We demand a world where those most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and our land – while recognizing that the rights and histories of our Indigenous family must also be respected. This includes:
1. Direct democratic community control of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, ensuring that communities most harmed by destructive policing have the power to hire and fire officers, determine disciplinary action, control budgets and policies, and subpoena relevant agency information.
In a policy position titled “End the War on Black People,” the group endorses a series of societal transformations that would likely reshape modern policing:
We demand an end to the war against Black people. Since this country’s inception there have been named and unnamed wars on our communities. We demand an end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing of our people. This includes:
1. An immediate end to the criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of society including, but not limited to; our nation’s justice and education systems, social service agencies, and media and pop culture. This includes an end to zero-tolerance school policies and arrests of students, the removal of police from schools, and the reallocation of funds from police and punitive school discipline practices to restorative services.
The remaining 9 points in this policy position, or list of demands, call for the immediate abolition of capital punishment, bail, fines, court fees, use of criminal background to determine eligibility for virtually anything, deportation of illegal immigrants, militarized law enforcement, and private prisons.
In another policy position titled “Respect Protesters,” the organization seems to suggest looting as a form of protest:
We demand that the rights of protestors be respected and protected and that there be no abuse of powers. We Demand:
1. Violations of property should never be equated with the violation of human life.
The website also offers a petition urging readers to “Join us in calling on Congressional leadership to ensure that future action prioritize our communities over corporation [sic] and pushes back against the use of militarization in our communities as a response to this crisis.”
Neither the Open Society Foundations or the Center for American Progress have encouraged violent protests in response to the death of Floyd. There is also no clear evidence that either organization has funded the Black Lives Matter movement since 2016.
In a statement by the Open Society Foundations, the organization also explicitly condemned the idea that “people taking to the streets to express their anguish are paid.”
Our statement on the death of George Floyd pic.twitter.com/7rsL9NaSJC
— Open Society Foundations (@OpenSociety) May 31, 2020
Center for American Progress issued a statement urging law enforcement to “de-escalate” during the protests following the death of Floyd.
The Washington Post credits the Movement for Black Lives for helping the Black Lives Matter movement become “mainstream,” while quoting an excerpt from an interview with Garza, here listed as the organization’s co-founder on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
“Seven years ago, people thought that Black Lives Matter was a radical idea,” Alicia Garza, the co-founder of the Movement for Black Lives, told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “And yet Black Lives Matter is now a household name and it’s something being discussed across kitchen tables all over the world.”
The Movement for Black Lives has received funding from many other groups and celebrities, including $1 million from the K-pop group BTS, as reported by The New York Times on Monday.
This article was updated to amend a typo and clarify that neither Open Society Foundations nor the Center for American progress have urged violent protests.