The fallout from a damning exposé on the Women's March leaders published by Tablet continues, with The New York Times publishing a follow-up piece that echoes some of the key claims of anti-Semitism permeating the leadership of the organization. The latest blow to the embattled group comes from Barack Obama's hometown of Chicago, where the big annual Women's March event has just been canceled.
The Chicago Tribune reported Christmas day that Chicago Women's March organizers have canceled the march scheduled for January 19, which has drawn "hundreds of thousands of supporters to Grant Park in concert with similar marches across the globe" for the last two years. One of the reasons for the cancellation appears to be the internal turmoil resulting from accusations of anti-Semitism leveled at the group's leaders.
"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," the Tribune reports.
"There’s no march, there’s no rally," said Sara Kurensky, Women’s March Chicago board member, the Tribune reports. "We’re going to provide ways for people to organize and take action in their local communities."
While the Chicago organizers have pulled the plug on the event, other rallies and marches are stilled scheduled for the same day, including in D.C., Rockford, Illinois, Woodstock and New Lenox.
Some of have taken to social media to express their disappointment with Chicago's choice, but others are in agreement that it's time to walk away from the Women's March. "A lot has come to light about national in the last year. I support not marching with them," one member wrote in a Facebook post highlighted by the Tribune.
The cancellation by the Chicago chapter follows the announcement by the Washington state chapter that it was dissolving due to the refusal of the group's leaders to step down amid the controversy. The Rhode Island chapter has announced that it is officially separating from the national organization. The co-founder of the Women's March, Teresa Shook, is among the voices demanding the leaders' resignations.
"Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course," Shook wrote in a Facebook post in November. "I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA 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. I call for the current Co-Chairs to step down and to let others lead who can restore faith in the Movement and its original intent."
A few high-profile Women's March supporters have joined Shook's call, including Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing.
The charges of anti-Semitism directed at the organization's leadership stems largely from their support of virulent anti-Semite and racist Louis Farrakhan, leader of Nation of Islam, which happens to be based in Chicago. Mallory has publicly praised Farrakhan and he has reciprocated that praise, while condemning Jews as his "enemy." Sarsour has made a number of statements promoting anti-Semitic narratives. Tablet's report took criticism of the group to a new level. The New York Times has since published its own piece focused on the group's leaders that provides more damaging accusations, particularly how Mallory and Perez allegedly targeted a Jewish member, Vanessa Wruble.
Mallory told the Times in response to claims from Wruble that she was pushed out because she was Jewish that since the group's early conversation about how to handle Jewish women, they still believe all white Jews uphold white supremacy by the very fact that they're white, but they've come to understand that all Jews are also targeted by anti-Semitism. "Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how while white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy, ALL Jews are targeted by it," said Mallory.
Amid mounting pressure, the group's leaders issued a generic statement condemning all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism. "The organization and its leaders have dedicated themselves to liberating women from all forms of oppression, including anti-Semitism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, white supremacy, xenophobia and Islamophobia," the leadership said in a statement.