The pro-Palestinian protests over the last month, where tens of thousands in the U.S. have chanted for the end of Israel, are not merely a story of organic rage.
They are also funded in large part by an uber-wealthy American-born tech entrepreneur: Neville Roy Singham, and his wife Jodie Evans.
Since 2017, Singham has been the main funder of The People’s Forum, which has co-organized at least four protests after 1,400 innocent Israelis were slaughtered by Hamas on October 7. One rally, in Times Square, happened on October 8 before Israel had even counted its dead.
Based in Midtown Manhattan, The People’s Forum calls itself a “movement incubator for working class and marginalized communities to build unity across historic lines of division at home and abroad.” But a review of public disclosure forms show that multimillionaire Singham and his wife Evans have donated over $20.4 million to The People’s Forum from 2017 to 2022 through a series of shell organizations and donor advisory groups—accounting for nearly all of the group’s funding.
Singham’s wealth stems from Thoughtworks, a software consulting company that he launched in 1993 in Chicago and sold in August 2017 to private equity firm Apax Partners for $785 million. That same year, The People’s Forum was founded and set up on the ground floor of a multistory building on 37th Street just blocks from Times Square; Evans was also installed as one of its three board members. As of 2021, the organization employed 13 staff members and held more than $13.6 million in total assets.
“I decided that at my age and extreme privilege, the best thing I could do was to give away most of my money in my lifetime,” said Singham, now 69, in a statement after selling his company, according to a New York Times investigation in August.
But Singham is more than just a Marxist with deep pockets. He is also a China sympathizer who lives in Shanghai and has close ties to at least four propaganda news sites that boost the Chinese Communist Party’s image abroad, the Times reported.
These Chinese media interests are helping sow discord in the U.S., Rep. Mike Gallagher, the chairman of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, told The Free Press.
“The Chinese Communist Party uses tools like Confucius Institutes on college campuses, TikTok’s addictive algorithm, and organizations like those that Mr. Singham funds to divide and weaken America,” Gallagher said.
Born to a Cuban mother and a Sri Lankan father in 1954, Singham grew up steeped in far-left politics. His father, Archibald Singham, worked as a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and was the first scholar in residence at the New York State Martin Luther King Jr. Institute for Nonviolence, in Albany. He also advised the UN on third-world development and penned multiple books, including Non-Alignment in an Age of Alignments and Namibian Independence: A Global Responsibility.
After spending his early days in Connecticut, Singham grew up partly in Jamaica. When he was 17, he joined the radical Marxist group and labor union League of Revolutionary Black Workers, and the following year, according to a 2021 blog post by Singham, “like all disciplined cadre [I] went to work in the factory.” That factory was a Chrysler plant in Detroit, where he took a central role with the league, helping organize strikes and partaking in “daily, intense self-criticism sessions.”
In 1974, the FBI investigated Singham as “potentially dangerous because of background, emotional instabilities or activity in groups engaged in activities inimical to the U.S.,” according to its report, which he published on a blog. Two years later, Singham enrolled at Howard University, studying political science, before joining the ranks of corporate America with his global start-up. Within two decades, his company had employed over 4,500 people across 42 offices in 15 different countries. One magazine profile later referred to Singham “as something like the righteous antithesis of Peter Thiel, the Trump-supporting co-founder of PayPal.”
Though he became fabulously wealthy, he never gave up his radical politics. In a 2008 profile in Fortune, Singham said that Venezuela under left-wing populist Hugo Chavez was a “phenomenally democratic place” and that China’s economic policies should serve as a model for capitalist economies. “China is teaching the West that the world is better off with a dual system of both free-market adjustments and long-term planning,” he said.
In 2017, the same year he sold his company and kickstarted The People’s Forum, Singham married Jodie Evans, a former Democratic political activist and presidential campaign manager for Jerry Brown, in a beachside ceremony in Runaway Bay, Jamaica. The couple called their Bob Marley-themed wedding “One Love Union” and advertised it in a logo incorporating the Jamaican flag and a power salute. Prominent leftist figures, including Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, attended the three-day event, which included a “radical chic festive” dress code and a three-hour panel discussion on “The Future of the Left.”
Singham’s wife Evans, 69, was a far-left political leader herself before she wed him. While married to a multimillionaire data scientist in 2002, she co-founded the anti-war nonprofit Code Pink, whose members are known for wearing pink peace sign earrings and protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Last month, a group of Code Pink followers disrupted a Senate Appropriations Committee to chant for a cease-fire in Israel as they held up their red-painted hands—calling to mind a famous 2000 image of a Palestinian man who waved his blood-soaked hands to celebrate the lynching of two IDF reservists.
Now living in Shanghai, Singham shares an office with the Maku Group, a media company that aims to “tell China’s story well through innovation.” Singham was also a backer of pro-Chinese website Newsclick, based in India, as well as the now-defunct media company New Frame in South Africa, whose silence on China’s human rights abuses led one editor to resign in 2022.
Singham has also reportedly promoted Chinese website Dongsheng News to his friends, telling them it “provides unique progressive coverage of China that has been sadly missing.”
A recent article on Dongsheng’s website makes the case for why, in Chinese cities, there is an “absence of large slums or pervasive homelessness that is so common to most of the rest of the world,” and praises China for building “a modern socialist society.”
Dongsheng News, according to the Times, shares an address with The People’s Forum.
In August, Marco Rubio sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting the Department of Justice investigate whether Singham and his web of nonprofits complied with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
“The CCP is our greatest adversary, and we cannot allow it to abuse our open system to promote its malign influence any longer,” Rubio wrote.
Singham’s wife Evans was once critical of the Chinese government. In 2015, she stood in solidarity with Chinese feminists, writing on Twitter that the government must “stop brutal repression of their women’s human rights defenders.” But after marrying Singham, she started to change her tune. She launched the #ChinaIsNotOurEnemy campaign through Code Pink in 2020, and now leads a series of webinars on Code Pink’s YouTube page where she praises China’s “beautiful history” and its party-state political structure.
“The idea that it’s an authoritarian system that controls everything is, like, so crazy, what a crazy notion that we’ve been sold,” she said four months ago in an hour-long virtual talk. The people of China are not oppressed, she added, because “I know what it’s like to be with people who are oppressed.”
Despite her staunch support of the Muslim residents in Gaza, Evans justifies the oppression of Uyghur Muslims in China, where more than a million have been forcibly detained in “reeducation camps,” leading to reports of beating and systemic rape.
In her YouTube talk, Evans argued that China’s treatment of Uyghurs was not as bad as the U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. At least China, she said, was “not torturing and keeping people in jail for 16 years with no due process.”
“I categorically deny and repudiate any suggestion that I am a member of, work for, take orders from, or follow instructions of any political party or government or their representatives,” he wrote. “I am solely guided by my beliefs, which are my long-held personal views.”
At its multiroom modern headquarters in Midtown, which anyone can visit, The People’s Forum hosts classes like “Lenin and the Path to Revolution,” praising countries like China and Cuba that have “smash[ed] the shackles of Western imperialism,” as well as seminars like “Healthcare Under Siege and Apartheid,” blaming Israel for “discriminatory policies” and “genocide” in Gaza. One of the regular lecturers at the forum includes Singham’s friend, the Marxist intellectual Vijay Prashad. The treasurer of The People’s Forum, Chris Caruso, once worked for Singham at Thoughtworks as a research analyst.
The People’s Forum headquarters also boasts a socialist-themed coffee shop, The People’s Café, where visitors can order a $4 chai tea latte, a $10 Southwestern salad, or an $11 Cuban panini, stuffed with pulled pork, ham, and Swiss cheese. Its bookshop, 1804 Books—named after the year Haiti overthrew its French rulers—is stocked with hundreds of titles celebrating Communist heroes from Karl Marx to Che Guevara. According to tax filings from 2018 to 2021, the forum spent over $12 million in “leasehold improvements” to their office space.
Reviewing publicly available documents, The Free Press traced the money from Singham to The People’s Forum via a fund run by Goldman Sachs, which operates a philanthropy arm that enables wealthy clients to give large donations to nonprofit causes. The fund, which operates separately from the bank, also serves to help donors conceal their identities.
A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs said the fund “offers clients a way to engage in charitable giving.”
“The Fund follows Internal Revenue Service guidelines for disclosing the organizations that receive charitable funds in a given year and also follows IRS guidelines for disclosing the names of donors of charitable funds,” the spokesperson wrote in an email to The Free Press.
Though Singham’s name is nowhere to be found on The People’s Forum’s website or its tax documents, the organization isn’t shy about admitting they’re taking his cash. In 2021, to dispel allegations that the nonprofit took in “dark money,” The Forum posted on X (then Twitter) that Singham is “a Marxist comrade who sold his company & donated most of his wealth to nonprofits that focus on political education, culture & internationalism.”
“It seems to bother some folk that we receive funding that furthers our anti-imperialist politics,” the organization wrote. “The folks who make allegations against us are steeped in the worst kind of racism, believing somehow that our funding robs us of agency & self-determination.”
The People’s Forum sings from the same pro-China hymn sheet as its chief funders. Last year, its executive director Manolo De Los Santos appeared on a program on the YouTube channel of CGTN, a Chinese state-owned media group, and said China’s political and economic system puts “people first,” compared to the American system, which prioritizes “profits over people.”
De Los Santos did not respond to a Free Press request for comment.
For now, the People’s Forum is focusing on its pro-Palestinian agenda, calling for “more marches, walk-outs, sit-ins, and other forms of direct action directed at the political offices, businesses, and workplaces that fund, invest, and collaborate with Israeli genocide and occupation.” The next protest co-organized by the forum, called “Shut It Down for Palestine,” is taking place November 17 in at least 18 locations across the world including Copenhagen, New York City, Idaho, and Iowa.
Meanwhile, Executive Director De Los Santos has made the organization’s mission clear. He recently slammed this week’s March for Israel in D.C., calling it a “Pro-Genocide March,” while labeling its guest speakers “racists” and “fake progressives.”
And, in a separate post earlier this month, he praised the tens of thousands who attended the November 4 Free Palestine rally in D.C., co-organized by the Forum.
“I’m proud of my fellow organizers & the movements that made this moment possible. We came together to build this in [a] little over 2 weeks. We didn’t bow down to demands to be respectable, we refused to be intimidated by the state & we dared to build on the momentum of the struggle.
“There is no turning back now.”
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