Following my post last week that Women’s March organizers in Washington state are disbanding the state chapter because of the antisemitism of the organization’s national co-chairs (Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour), it turns out that Women’s March Chicago organizers also are dissociating themselves from the national organization.
As controversy swells around national Women’s March organizers, the local group has decided not to host a march in January — an event that for the past two years drew hundreds of thousands of supporters to Grant Park in concert with similar marches across the globe.
While Women’s March Chicago organizers cited high costs and limited volunteer hours as the main reasons for nixing the annual rally and march, the break comes amid splintering within the national Women’s March leadership following accusations of anti-Semitism and scrutiny of its ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Marches and rallies are still planned for Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C., and dozens of cities nationwide and internationally, as well as other parts of Illinois like Rockford, southwest suburban New Lenox and northwest suburban Woodstock.
Women’s March Chicago leaders say they’ll commemorate the anniversary of the original march with another activity but haven’t released any details on the location or nature of the event.
Women’s March Chicago organizers say they are a grassroots group not directly affiliated with Women’s March Inc., though past local marches have been held in sync with the national group and other similar marches across the country. While the decision to forgo a January march wasn’t based on recent controversy, Kurensky said the opportunity to further distance the Chicago organization from national Women’s March leaders was a “side benefit.”
“That sort of infighting within the movement is very painful. It’s very painful to watch,” she said. “When a handful of leaders … say something, they are not speaking for an entire movement.”
Women’s March Chicago leaders also denounced anti-Semitism and Farrakhan’s February comments.
“There’s no march, there’s no rally,” said Sara Kurensky, Women’s March Chicago board member. “We’re going to provide ways for people to organize and take action in their local communities.”
Here’s hoping this is just the beginning. If the Women’s March wants to be taken seriously as truly caring about human rights, they need to not just utter platitudes about antisemitism but act against it. And that means telling Sarsour, Mallory and Perez et al where to go.