There’s a solitary man at the financial center of the Ferguson protest movement. No, it’s not victim Michael Brown or Officer Darren Wilson. It’s not even the Rev. Al Sharpton, despite his ubiquitous campaign on TV and the streets.
Rather, it’s liberal billionaire George Soros, who has built a business empire that dominates across the ocean in Europe while forging a political machine powered by nonprofit foundations that impacts American politics and policy, not unlike what he did with MoveOn.org.
Mr. Soros spurred the Ferguson protest movement through years of funding and mobilizing groups across the U.S., according to interviews with key players and financial records reviewed by The Washington Times.
In all, Mr. Soros gave at least $33 million in one year to support already-established groups that emboldened the grass-roots, on-the-ground activists in Ferguson, according to the most recent tax filings of his nonprofit Open Society Foundations.
The financial tether from Mr. Soros to the activist groups gave rise to a combustible protest movement that transformed a one-day criminal event in Missouri into a 24-hour-a-day national cause celebre.
“Our DNA includes a belief that having people participate in government is indispensable to living in a more just, inclusive, democratic society,” said Kenneth Zimmerman, director of Mr. Soros‘ Open Society Foundations’ U.S. programs, in an interview with The Washington Times. “Helping groups combine policy, research [and] data collection with community organizing feels very much the way our society becomes more accountable.”
Soros-sponsored organizations helped mobilize protests in Ferguson, building grass-roots coalitions on the ground backed by a nationwide online and social media campaign.
Other Soros-funded groups made it their job to remotely monitor and exploit anything related to the incident that they could portray as a conservative misstep, and to develop academic research and editorials to disseminate to the news media to keep the story alive.
The plethora of organizations involved not only shared Mr. Soros‘ funding, but they also fed off each other, using content and buzzwords developed by one organization on another’s website, referencing each other’s news columns and by creating a social media echo chamber of Facebook “likes” and Twitter hashtags that dominated the mainstream media and personal online newsfeeds.
All were aimed at keeping the media’s attention on the city and to widen the scope of the incident to focus on interrelated causes — not just the overpolicing and racial discrimination narratives that were highlighted by the news media in August.
“I went to Ferguson in a quest to be in solidarity and stand with the young organizers and affirm their leadership,” said Kassandra Frederique, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance, which was founded by Mr. Soros, and which receives $4 million annually from his foundation. She traveled to Ferguson in October.
“We recognized this movement is similar to the work we’re doing at DPA,” said Ms. Frederique. “The war on drugs has always been to operationalize, institutionalize and criminalize people of color. Protecting personal sovereignty is a cornerstone of the work we do and what this movement is all about.”
Ms. Frederique works with Opal Tometi, co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter — a hashtag that was developed after the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida — and helped promote it on DPA’s news feeds. Ms. Tometi runs the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, a group to which Mr. Soros gave $100,000 in 2011, according to the most recent of his foundation’s tax filings.
“I think #BlackLivesMatter’s success is because of organizing. This was created after Trayvon Martin, and there has been sustained organizing and conversations about police violence since then,” said Ms. Frederique. “Its explosion into the mainstream recently is because it connects all the dots at a time when everyone was lost for words. ‘Black Lives Matter’ is liberating, unapologetic and leaves no room for confusion.”
With the backing of national civil rights organizations and Mr. Soros‘ funding, “Black Lives Matter” grew from a hashtag into a social media phenomenon, including a #BlackLivesMatter bus tour and march in September.
“More than 500 of us have traveled from Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Nashville, Portland, Tucson, Washington, D.C., Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and other cities to support the people of Ferguson and help turn a local moment into a national movement,” wrote Akiba Solomon, a journalist at Colorlines, describing the event.
Colorlines is an online news site that focuses on race issues and is published by Race Forward, a group that received $200,000 from Mr. Soros’s foundation in 2011. Colorlines has published tirelessly on the activities in Ferguson and heavily promoted the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and activities.
Mr. Soros gave $5.4 million to Ferguson and Staten Island grass-roots efforts last year to help “further police reform, accountability and public transparency,” the Open Society Foundations said in a blog post in December. About half of those funds were earmarked to Ferguson, with the money primarily going to OBS and MORE, the foundation said.
OBS and MORE, along with the Dream Defenders, established the “Hands Up Coalition” — another so-called “grass-roots” organization in Missouri, whose name was based on now-known-to-be-false claims that Brown had his hands up before being shot. The Defenders were built to rally support and awareness for the Trayvon Martin case and were funded by the Tides Foundation, another recipient of Soros cash.
Hands Up Coalition has made it its mission to recruit and organize youth nationwide to start local events in their communities — trying to take Ferguson nationwide.
Hands Up Coalition has dubbed 2015 as “The Year of Resistance,” and its outreach program strongly resembles how President Obama’s political action committee — Organizing for Action — rallies youth for its causes, complete with a similarly designed Web page and call to action.
Mr. Soros‘ two largest foundations manage almost $3 billion in assets per year, according to their most recent respective tax returns. The Foundation to Promote Open Society managed $2.2 billion in assets in 2011, and his Open Society Institute managed $685.9 million in 2012.
In comparison, David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers whom liberals often call a threat to democracy — and worse — for their conservative influence, had $308 million tied up in their foundation and institute in 2011.
One of the organizations that Mr. Soros funds, and which fueled the demonstrations in Ferguson, is the Gamaliel Foundation, a network of grass-roots, interreligious and interracial organizations. Mr. Obama started his career as a community organizer at a Gamaliel affiliate in Chicago.
The Rev. Traci Blackmon of Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri, which is part of the Gamaliel network, said in one of the group’s webinars that clergy involved with Gamaliel must be “protectors of the narrative” of what happened in Ferguson.
Source: Washington Times