Charity Database Removes 'Hate Group' Labels After Threats and Conservative Backlash

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Pamela Geller speaks during an interview at The Associated Press in New York.
Charity database removes 'hate group' labels after threats and conservative backlash. Pictured: Pamela Geller speaks during an interview at The Associated Press in New York, 2015.Credit: AP

A website that maintains a massive database of information about U.S. charities says it will remove warning labels flagging dozens of nonprofits as hate groups after threats directed at its staff.

GuideStar said in a statement Friday that its decision to remove the labels was driven by its "commitment to objectivity" and concerns for its staff's "wellbeing."

The self-described "neutral" repository for data on charities recently flagged 46 nonprofits for being labeled as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center. A banner atop their GuideStar profiles includes the law center's logo and a link to its website.

Several leaders of flagged groups demanded the removal of the banners. The list of flagged groups includes a nonprofit operated by white nationalist Richard Spencer. But it also includes more mainstream organizations.

According to the Washington Post, "GuideStar announced its decision to remove the labels last week, just two days after being sent a complaint letter signed by 41 people, largely representing conservative organizations, including Pamela Geller of the American Freedom Defense Initiative." Geller is a controversial figure and has long been labeled an Islamophobe after hosting events seen as provoking violence, including a contest for drawing cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in Texas, which turned deadly. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Geller as “one of America’s most notorious Islamophobes.”