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Emily Venezky
By Emily Venezky June 1, 2020

No, George Soros and his foundations do not pay people to protest

If Your Time is short

  • Candace Owens first guessed and then continually claimed that George Soros and the foundations he founded had "funded the chaos" in Minneapolis.

  • Soros and Open Society Foundations say they do not support violence.

  • Open Society Foundations has not given grants to organizations to support violent protesting.

Billionaire philanthropist George Soros has been accused for years of directly funding and even orchestrating protests. 

This includes false claims that Soros financially supported the first national Women’s March and organized the Charlottesville, Va., protests and counter-protests in 2017. 

In a series of tweets, Candace Owens, a conservative commentator, claimed that George Soros and his Open Society Foundations had hired the protesters that started fires and raided stores during protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd. 

She at first tweeted that it was her "guess" that "Democrat George Soros has these thugs on payroll. He is funding the chaos via his Open Society Foundation." She went on to tweet that the foundation had to "throw money at black Americans to riot" and that Soros and the foundation "got what you wanted in Minnesota." We reached out to Owens for additional comment and did not hear back. 

Open Society Foundations is a liberal grant-making network that is "the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights." Their network funds programs in more than 120 countries, including work in the United States that "focuses on immigration and criminal justice reform, improving democratic participation, and supporting free and independent media."

The Open Society Foundations’ official Twitter account responded to her tweet that they "oppose all violence and do not pay people to protest" and that these were "baseless allegations." 

An Open Society Foundations representative told PolitiFact that the foundation "supports the First Amendment right of all Americans to make their voices heard and petition their government for redress of grievances." However, when it comes to rioting, "George Soros and the foundations oppose violence in any and all forms," they said.

The foundation does give grants every one or two years to U.S. organizations that work to "advance racial justice and to make police forces more accountable to the communities they serve." They then listed a few, including the Community Resource Hub for Safety and Accountability, a website that keeps a database of resources and grassroot organizations related to policing in the United States. 

PolitiFact could find no evidence that Soros or the Open Society Foundations had contributed to any organization that financed street protests in Minneapolis.

Owens also claimed that the Open Society Foundations gave $33 million to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The claim that George Soros funded the Ferguson protests and Black Lives Matter was checked by Snopes in 2015, and it received a mixed rating. Snopes said that Open Society Foundations has donated $33 million to organizations that have worked with Black Lives Matter or worked to raise awareness during the Ferguson-related protests. However, they had never given money to groups for the express purpose of organizing protests with the movement. 

The representative from Open Society Foundations said that their grants are made to organizations to help them "support communities and advance policy change."

We didn’t find any evidence that the foundation has given money directly to the Black Lives Matter movement. The most recent connection they have with the organization is their 2018 grant of $279,860 to Release Leads, a UK organization that mostly focuses on international drug use education and policy reform, but also organizes public speaking events that feature the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK.

Our ruling

Owens’ tweet that Soros was "funding the chaos" in Minneapolis through Open Society Foundations is unproven. She continued to claim that the foundation had paid protesters after Open Society Foundations denied it on Twitter. 

There is no evidence that Soros or the foundation had given any grants to organizations that funded and organized "the chaos" in Minneapolis. We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Open Society Foundations, George Soros, accessed on May 29, 2020

PolitiFact, Pants on Fire claim that George Soros money went to Women's March protesters, Jan 25, 2017

PolitiFact, Infowars' Alex Jones falsely says George Soros, Hillary Clinton instigated Charlottesville violence, August 14, 2017

Tweet, May 28, 2020

Open Society Foundations, Who We Are, accessed on June 1, 2020

Open Society Foundations, United States, accessed on June 1, 2020

Community Resource Hub, About, accessed on June 1, 2020

Snopes, Did George Soros Fund Ferguson Protests and Black Lives Matter?, Jan. 22, 2015

Open Society Foundations, Awarded Grants Database, accessed on June 1, 2020

Release, Homepage, accessed on June 1, 2020

Email interview with Open Society Foundations' chief communications officer, May 28, 2020

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No, George Soros and his foundations do not pay people to protest

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