The Women’s March organization co-chaired by Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland took another hit last week. A Washington state chapter announced it would be dissolving to protest the co-chair’s connections to Louis Farrakhan. From the Spokesman-Review:
Angie Beem, a Spokane Valley resident who served as board president of Women’s March Washington, announced the dissolution of the state group on Facebook on Thursday, citing the national organization’s ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Beem, who helped organize the march in Spokane in 2017 and made an unsuccessful bid for Spokane Valley City Council that fall, said in an interview Friday the decision to disband wasn’t easy.
“It’s heartbreaking. Whenever you create something that literally changed your life, it’s really hard to walk away from it,” Beem said…
Beem said state organizers were not only uncomfortable with the national leaders’ ties to Farrakhan, whose group, the Nation of Islam, has been labeled as an anti-Semitic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They’re also concerned about the national organizers’ finances and what Beem called a “fame-hungry” attitude.
“One of the things that has really surprised me is that I’m not getting a lot of pushback and a lot of hate,” she said. “That, to me, is almost a miracle.”
The dissolution of the Washington chapter isn’t the only sign of dissatisfaction with the current co-chairs. The Los Angeles chapter has a statement on its front page distancing itself from Women’s March Inc. It reads in part:
Women’s March Los Angeles has no affiliation and was never part of Women’s March Inc. WMLA is its own separate organization with separate leadership, board and funding. WMLA was the first organization to incorporate under the Women’s March name in November 2016, with no guidance or input from what is now Women’s March Inc.
The four co-chairs of Women’s March Inc. have been under pressure ever since Tamika Mallory attended an event hosted by Louis Farrakhan at which she was singled out for praise. Mallory’s attempts to defend herself online only made the situation worse. The ADL noticed that Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour had also expressed admiration for Farrakhan.
The criticism died down, at least publicly, but it was sparked again last month when actress Alyssa Milano said she would not participate in any future Women’s March Inc. events because they had refused to distance themselves from Farrakhan. Milano is considered a leader of the #MeToo movement so her taking sides against the Women’s March co-chairs carried some weight. Milano’s comments were seconded by actress Debra Messing.
Less than two weeks later another big shoe dropped. Teresa Shook, the woman recognized as the founder of the movement, called for all four of the co-chairs to resign. Then, about a week ago, Tablet magazine published a 10,000-word story detailing the history of the Women’s March including incidents of anti-Semitism which allegedly happened almost from the moment the current co-chairs became involved. That bad news was compounded when a PR company hired by the Women’s March sent emails to dozens of reporters suggesting they take down their tweets of the Tablet story in exchange for evidence the story was false. That didn’t go over well with any of the reporters.
At this point, many people of influence have said the co-chairs should go. But they are pointedly ignoring those calls at present. Given the sizeable amount of money the group has raised in the past, they can probably coast for quite a while. Ultimately, the Women’s March is their ticket. They have nowhere else to go.