On July 28, Bill O’Reilly, the host of Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, said “So who’s funding Black Lives Matter? One of the big donors seems to be George Soros, our old pal, who gives big money to affiliates of Black Lives Matter—groups that do direct business with them. Also giving money directly to the group [are] entertainers Jay Z and Beyoncé.”
O’Reilly’s guest that day was Kelly Riddell, a reporter for The Washington Times. She had written an investigative report about Soros’ ties to left-wing organizations. She claimed that #BlackLivesMatter had been founded by three women employed by organizations bankrolled by the Open Society Foundations. Riddell also stated that Soros had “dedicated $33 million to these types of organizations” in a single year. O’Reilly then speculated that the money had gone to activists “who are organized to disrupt” and who would target the Republican convention in Cleveland.
Ken Zimmerman, the director of US programs of the Open Society Foundations, declared the rumors to be wrong. He added that the Open Society Foundation does not fund protests, and he pointed out that it would be impossible to fund “an amorphous movement” like #BlackLivesMatter even if Soros had wanted to.
#BlackLivesMatter was created by three activists, Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, and Patrisse Cullors who rallied together on Twitter in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his killer. The women came up with the Black Lives Matter hashtag as a way of calling attention to the violent deaths of young black Americans. That phrase and hashtag stroke a cord with people especially after the deaths of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, who had all been killed by policemen.
The three founders of #BlackLivesMatter had not known about the disruption of Saunders’ speech until after the fact. The two protestors, Mara Willaford and Marissa Johnson, had not claimed any official ties to the movement before the day of the speech.
According to Investopedia, George Soros first became involved in philanthropy in 1979 when he began giving scholarships to black students in South Africa which was then under apartheid. In the 1990s, Soros established the Open Society Foundation, a network of projects and organizations that now operates in over 100 countries. The Foundation is governed by the beliefs that governments need to be accountable and respect peoples’ rights and that no one entity or person has a monopoly on the truth. OSF programs in the US are typically concerned with such issues as end-of-life care, immigration reform and drug legalization.