The fourth annual Women’s March took place on Saturday, but attendance was way down, according to reports, as interest in the march has flagged and the Women’s March organization is dogged with problems.
Carmen Perez, the only Women’s March “co-founder” left at the group after a purge of organizers earlier this year stemming from allegations of anti-Semitism within the Women’s March’s ranks, told USA Today that she hoped to see a re-energized group of marchers, but it doesn’t seem her hopes materialized.
“There was a moment in 2016, 2017, and I think that moment is here again,’’ Perez said. “One, we are in an election year. Two, we are in potential war conversations, with the fact the U.S. has struck another country. I personally feel we’re going to see an increase in numbers because people are wanting to come together again. People are going to show up to the Women’s March with their anti-war messaging because they want to be out in the streets working.”
In 2019, attandance was at an all time low. ‘The crowd estimator pegged nationwide participation in the 650-plus sister marches that day at 3.3 million-5.3 million, making it the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Those figures dwindled to 1.9 million-2.6 million in 2018 and 676,000-747,000 in 2019.”
Although crowd estimates aren’t out yet for 2020’s march, it seems even fewer managed to pull on their pink-eared hats and take to the streets to protest President Donald Trump. A few thousand turned out in Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles, but otherwise, the Women’s March seemed to rely on local organizers to draw out groups of 50 or 60 in small towns and progressive enclaves.
Even the ACLU couldn’t edit away the miniscule protest in the nation’s capital, where barely enough people gathered to require police to rope off a single city block.
— ACLU (@ACLU) January 18, 2020
In L.A., one of the hubs of the Women’s March, there weren’t enough people to fill a city park.
The Chicago march drew interest, but the focus wasn’t necessarily on politics. Women there marched for “housing” and “wages,” and against “income inequality,” giving the March the appearance of major mission creep.
Mary Paskowski and Cathy Rehr say they’re here today to bring attention to wages and housing pic.twitter.com/QRffMh1r95
— Grace Hauck (@grace_hauck) January 18, 2020
Organizers who spoke to USA Today suggested that the March’s deep decline is due, in part, to “protest fatigue” — there’s now a demonstration almost every weekend, most organized by MoveOn.org (particularly the ones pressing for President Donald Trump’s impeachment) and International ANSWER (which has been instrumental in turning people out to oppose a war with Iran that never quite materialized) — but they also noted, separately to The Atlantic, that the Women’s March has been deliberately low-key as of late, after having a very rough year.
“This week, [the Women’s March organization] has hosted ‘actions’—in effect, guided conversations and rallies—focused on the march’s three main issue areas: immigration, climate, and reproductive justice. But the planned events also veered into other territory, including a protest against war with Iran,” the newsmagazine reported. “When pressed, [Women’s March leader Carmen] Perez said the organization’s first goal is to ‘bring awareness.'”
In some cities, like Boston, the Women’s March simply didn’t organize or publicize a march at all.
That’s, apparently, by design. Perez is the only original Women’s March organizer that’s left after three top Women’s March officials — Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, and Bob Bland — departed the organization following a pair of blockbuster reports revealing that Sarsour, Mallory, and Bland tolerated anti-Semitism in the organization’s highest ranks, and that Sarsour and Mallory actively aligned the Women’s March with the virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam.