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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One of the sponsors of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Downtown Pittsburgh has been accused of funding hate groups and their signs have now been removed from the market.
The Colcom Foundation based in Pittsburgh is a major sponsor of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market in Market Square, but over the weekend, a coalition of groups supporting immigrant rights pressured the Downtown Partnership to remove two of Colcom’s signs.
The groups accuse Colcom of supporting anti-immigrant organizations.
Guillermo Perez is with the Pittsburgh Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
“We can’t have a prominent foundation fund these kinds of hate groups and not call them on it. And for them to put their name on the Holiday Market or on Santa’s House where children go, it’s just not right,” Perez said.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Colcom provided $19.4 million to many causes, including three national organizations that have been identified as hate groups.
“All three of these groups put out what we would call hate speech and hate propaganda labeling immigrants in ways that we think are frankly racist. They have close associations with white supremacy groups,” Perez said.
The Colcom Foundation was established in 1996 and many agree it funds a number of worthy organizations.
In a statement released Monday, a spokesman says, “Colcom Foundation has no tolerance for discrimination; all must be treated with equal dignity … it joins the majority of Americans in believing our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. The level of immigration should be adapted to the best interest of Americans and immigrants.”
The statement goes on to say, “When a holiday stage sign distracts from the Foundation’s longstanding efforts to advance this civic dialogue, the sign should come down.”
The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership also released a statement on the matter. It says in part:
“The recent attention regarding Colcom Foundation’s funding has deflected from our mission and the positive results which the Holiday Market generates, so at the request of Colcom Foundation we have removed signage from the market acknowledging their support. The PDP encourages further community dialogue on this topic and will continue to focus on ensuring we produce events that are open to all, and support the development of a vibrant, welcoming Downtown.”