Goldman Sachs-Funded NGO Sparked Intensified Protests at Columbia University

 May 26, 2024

The protest situation at Columbia University escalated sharply following encouragement from a New York City-based nonprofit.

A nonprofit named the People’s Forum, heavily financed by Goldman Sachs' charitable sector, spearheaded an intense mobilization that culminated in the hostile occupation of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University.

According to the Washington Free Beacon, the People’s Forum, which has received over $12 million from Goldman’s philanthropic arm, convened a significant meeting involving more than 100 activists dressed in masks and keffiyehs. This gathering, aligning with a nationwide surge in anti-Israel demonstrations, was designated to escalate the ongoing protests.

Meeting Prompted Aggressive Protest Tactics

The meeting, orchestrated by the People’s Forum, took place at their offices in Manhattan. It kicked off at 6:45 p.m., during the peak of anti-Israel sentiments across the United States.

The group’s executive director, Manolo De Los Santos, fueled the fervor among participants, urging them to challenge the academic and political status quo during what he hoped would be a "hot summer" for U.S. President Joe Biden.

That night, actions from the meeting led to a group of activists forcefully taking over Hamilton Hall, causing destruction and vandalism. Despite the unseemly outcome of the protest, there were initially no arrests consequent to the occupation of the university building.

Funds and Influence from Unexpected Sources

The significant financial support from Goldman Sachs was scrutinized due to revelations about the fund's connections to Neville Roy Singham, a known supporter of Maoist ideologies and alleged financier of CCP propaganda.

A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs highlighted that the funding came directly from a client-advised fund, clarifying that "This was not firm money."

The People’s Forum has been an active participant in anti-Israel protests, particularly pronounced since the October 7th, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel. Their increased activism coincided with broader national and international outcry and conflict.

University’s Response to the Rising Tension

Following the escalated actions at Columbia, University President Minouche Shafik announced the temporary closure of the campus to all but essential personnel, citing security concerns stemming from the intense protests.

Los Santos commended Columbia students for choosing resistance over negotiation and encouraged those gathered at the People’s Forum to support the students, ensuring that their encampments can continue for as long as possible.

While there were no immediate legal actions following the university takeover, IRS guidelines could potentially impact the nonprofit’s charity status due to their involvement in advocating or organizing actions that resulted in violence.

Broader Implications for Nonprofit Accountability

In wrapping up, the events at Columbia University highlight significant issues involving nonprofit funding, activist mobilization, and institutional security responses. Manolo De Los Angeles Santos’s call for intense summer activism has had a material impact, reflecting continued tensions around U.S. education and foreign policy spheres. As these events unfold, the direct and indirect actors involved may face closer scrutiny and potential ramifications for their roles in the disruptions.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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