Conflicts over control, inclusivity and alleged anti-Semitism will mean that women protesting on the second anniversary of the Women’s March on Washington are faced with competing demonstrations this weekend in New York City.
One procession, around the edge of Central Park and down Sixth Avenue, is being organized by the Women’s March Alliance, a nonprofit group whose leaders are putting on their version of the demonstration for the third straight year.
Another event, a downtown rally held at roughly the same time Saturday, is being organized by the New York City, chapter of Women’s March Inc., the group formed to help organize the 2017 demonstration in Washington, D.C., the day after President Trump’s inauguration.
Talks between organizers aimed at linking the groups in New York City didn’t go anywhere, the reasons varying between overstepping and indifference depending on who’s asked. And hanging overhead that has been a controversy playing out nationwide, of concerns related to race and religion.
Those who have been critical of the Women’s March Inc. point to co-leader Tamika Mallory, who is black and has come under fire from Jewish groups for her association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known partly for his virulent anti-Semitic rhetoric and condemnations of homosexuality.
Some Jewish groups have pulled support for Women’s March Inc. over the issue, while others remain. A Washington state chapter disbanded in protest. In November, Teresa Shook, the Hawaiian woman whose viral Facebook post is credited with launching the original Women’s March, called on Mallory and her co-chairwomen Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez and Bob Bland to step down, saying they had “steered the movement away from its true course.”
“They have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQLA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs,” she wrote.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Sarsour acknowledged the “valid criticism” that the organization had been “delayed in our unequivocal response in denouncing anti-Semitism” but said it was part of the growth process toward building a movement comprised of many different groups of people with different histories and issues. “We believe in this movement.”