Anti-Israel Group Encouraged Columbia Protesters To Re-Create 'The Summer of 2020' Hours Before Students Stormed a Building

The People’s Forum’s operations are made possible in large part by a $12 million donation from Goldman Sachs’s charitable arm.

Student protesters hoist "Intifada" banner from Hamilton Hall.
May 1, 2024

A New York City nonprofit that received more than $12 million from Goldman Sachs' charitable arm encouraged anti-Israel activists to re-create the violent protests of  "the summer of 2020," just hours before rioters stormed and occupied a building on Columbia University’s campus.

More than 100 masked and keffiyeh-clad activists convened in the People’s Forum’s Manhattan office Monday evening to plan their next moves as anti-Israel protests reach a fever pitch across the country. The meeting, which was scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m., was delayed to give protesters from Columbia time to make it downtown.

Once the Columbia protesters arrived, People’s Forum executive director Manolo De Los Santos urged the group to "give Joe Biden a hot summer" and "make it untenable for the politics of usual to take place in this country." Los Santos praised Columbia students for "decid[ing] that resistance is more important than negotiations," and urged those assembled at the People’s Forum to "support our students so that the encampments can go for as long as they can."

Los Santos also ranted about the "Zionist" Columbia administrators who "want to be more like their masters in Israel."

The "Volunteer Meeting," which the Washington Free Beacon attended via Zoom, concluded at 9:30 p.m. following "break out sessions" that focused on organizing new methods of "resistance." A few hours later activists smashed the windows of Columbia’s Hamilton Hall and barricaded themselves inside.

No arrests were made. The People’s Forum did not respond to a request for comment over whether they were aware of any attendees who rioted at Columbia.

The People’s Forum, a registered charity that describes itself as "a movement incubator for working class and marginalized communities," has been a mainstay at anti-Israel protests since Hamas’s Oct. 7, 2023, attack on the Jewish state. A day after the attack, the People’s Forum organized a Times Square protest where attendees celebrated Hamas and waved posters with anti-Semitic slogans and imagery. One protestor waved a picture of a Nazi flag on his cellphone.

It is not clear who was or who was not a Columbia student at the People’s Forum meeting, although several had just returned from the campus. But Los Santos encouraged attendees to head back.

"The moment the call goes out, we have to go back out," he said. "We have to be the bodies willing to stand between the police and our students."

Columbia president Minouche Shafik effectively shut down the campus on Tuesday, barring anyone who is not a student or staff "who provide essential services" from stepping foot on its grounds.

The People’s Forum’s operations are made possible in large part by a $12 million donation from Goldman Sachs’s charitable arm. The source of that money is likely Neville Roy Singham, a communist who has "long admired Maoism."

Singham, an American businessman who lives in China, reportedly helps finance the Chinese Communist Party’s "propaganda worldwide," according to the New York Times. His wife, Jodie Evans, is the leader of the activist group Code Pink. Under her leadership, the group has celebrated China as "a defender of the oppressed and a model for economic growth without slavery or war."

"As with any donor advised fund, the prior donation was made with the client’s money, at the client’s direction," a Goldman Sachs spokesman told the Free Beacon. "This was not firm money."

Groups like the People’s Forum stand to lose their charity status if they are found to be party to riots and violent protests, experts told the Free Beacon. The IRS’s charity guidelines state that groups may lose their charity status if they engage in "planned activities that violate laws" or "induce the commission of crime." That could make it harder for the group to raise money, as its donors would no longer enjoy a tax benefit on their donations. It would also require the People’s Forum to pay taxes on any donations it receives.

When asked whether the People’s Forum would bail out protesters arrested on Columbia’s campus, one woman affiliated with the group told the Free Beacon bail was not a concern, given the city’s approach to the protesters.

"There has been no need for bail for the vast majority of those who have been arrested," the woman said, "because they’re just booked and released."