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May 6, 2024

For Immediate Release:

One City Rising is deeply concerned about the increasing intensity and violence surrounding recent protests on college campuses and on our streets in New York City. We have written to US Attorney General Garland and New York Attorney General James to request them to investigate the following two issues: 1) the source of funding for these protests, which may include foreign government financing to promote political unrest; and 2) entities that have tax exempt status as charities, but are promoting illegal and unlawful protest activities, in violation of the requirements to maintain charitable status under state and federal law. You can view the full letter here.

There is growing evidence of a connection between the illegal activities on college campuses and foreign governments hostile to the United States.

Recent developments, including a federal lawsuit alleging that the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) and related organizations are coordinated by foreign terrorist groups, raise significant concerns. The lawsuit claims that, following the October 7 terror attacks in Israel, NSJP and similar organizations responded to calls from Hamas by disseminating a manifesto aimed at inciting chaos and violence on American campuses. These are serious allegations that demand immediate attention from our government and law enforcement agencies. Investigations of criminal activity should not fall solely on the private legal sector.

One City Rising has identified over 24 organizations that promote the protests, in addition to individual chapters at each college. An investigation is needed to determine the extent to which these groups are advocating its participants engage in illegal activity such as occupying buildings, stopping traffic, public vandalism, and other activities for which they should be held responsible for damages as well as potential loss of tax-exempt status.

The NYPD recently reported  that approximately 48% of those arrested at City College and Columbia University for engaging in illegal actions had no affiliation with either school. This suggests that outside agitators, professional organizers, and others not affiliated with the colleges are playing a significant role in escalating the violence and chaos.

The People’s Forum, a nonprofit entity that has participated in organizing the illegal occupation of Hamilton Hall at Columbia University, as well as encampments where Jewish students were forbidden to enter and were harassed, is funded principally by Neville Roy Singham, a collaborator with the authoritarian Chinese Communist party.

As reported in the NY Times in 2023:
“What is less known, and is hidden amid a tangle of nonprofit groups, is that Mr. Singham works closely with the Chinese Government media machine and is financing its propaganda worldwide.” 

Professional organizers like Abdullah Akl, a field organizer for MPower Change can regularly be seen leading the protests at CUNY, NYU, and Columbia University when he has no affiliation with any of the three mentioned schools.

Unsurprisingly, Attorney General Letitia James has been reluctant to pursue cases against extremist groups, despite their blatant violations of the law. The public has witnessed acts of vandalism, the blocking of train stations and bridges, and even the occupation of buildings at prestigious universities like Columbia University. Actions that violate criminal laws create a hostile and dangerous environment for all students, especially Jewish students who are the targets of the protesters’ wrath. Organized groups who occupy blockade buildings must face the consequences for their unlawful actions and must be held responsible for the damage they caused.

The Department of Justice has similarly taken a hands-off approach to these illegal activities, ostensibly to avoid accusations of chilling free speech. But even President Biden has called out the acts of protestors as crossing the line of legal behavior, and it is time that the groups inciting and funding the illegal acts are held to account.

We demand that government officials take immediate action to investigate groups and individuals who incite violence and vandalism. Our public spaces and educational institutions must remain safe for everyone.

Jason Curtis Anderson, OCR’s Policy Director, said: “Law enforcement has a duty to investigate the scope and extent of illegal funding activities and the extent to which these groups are acting as proxies for foreign governments. Our extensive months-long research demonstrates that well over 24 organizations (only two of which are student groups) are promoting these protests, and some of these groups have questionable funding sources. Additionally, groups that instigate violence must be held accountable for damages they cause. New York State officials and the Department of Justice need to commence this important investigative work.”

Maria Danzilo, OCR’s Executive Director, said, “it is high time that the US Attorney General and New York’s Attorney General open an investigation into the groups that are claiming responsibility for illegal activities in New York. We cannot continue to ignore the fact that there is substantial evidence that Hamas, a known terrorist organization, as well as foreign governments who have much to gain by destabilizing our country, are funding these activities. Additionally, if US nonprofits are engaging in or funding illegal activity, our attorneys general need to hold them to account and pursue appropriate remedies which may include loss of tax-exempt status.”

One City Rising (OCR) is a non-partisan, independent, grassroots organization dedicated to addressing New York City’s most pressing issues by fostering common ground and promoting pragmatic solutions. In a time when extreme positions on both sides of the political spectrum are causing division, OCR seeks to build bridges among New Yorkers to find practical solutions that are both economically and socially sustainable. The organization emphasizes good governance, accountability, and transparency, holding city leaders to the highest standards. OCR’s ultimate goal is to create a New York City where all residents can thrive and prosper, building a future filled with hope and optimism.


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