After a year of controversy and internal power struggles, the Women’s March returned to Washington D.C. for the third time alongside hundreds of sister marches nationwide, with thousands braving the cold and wet weather in the name of gender equality.
Marches were planned across the country from Boston to Los Angeles as well as overseas in cities including Berlin, Rome and Kabul. The event Saturday also comes amid the partial government shutdown, sparked by President Trump’s funding demands for a wall on the southern border.
The first-ever Women’s March in 2017, held the day after Trump’s inauguration, drew 3.3 million to 5.2 million people to rallies across the country. While the actual number of participants is unclear, it generally regarded as one of hte largest Washington protests since Vietnam. But attendees early Saturday appeared less in number, likely due in part to allegations of anti-Semitism and criticism over the group’s connections to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Organizers this year submitted a permit application estimating up to 500,000 people will be in attendance, though the actual turnout is expected to be much lower.
The accusations were specifically aimed at two primary leaders: Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American with a long history of criticizing Israeli policy, and Tamika Mallory, who once referred to Farrakhan as “the GOAT” or “the greatest of all time” on social media.
She also attended the Nation of Islam’s Saviours’ Day event last February, along with Sarsour and Carmen Perez, where Farrakhan said Jewish people are “responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.”
Teresa Shook, often credited with founding the movement through her viral Facebook event, in November publicly accused both Mallory and Sarsour as well as fellow organizers Bob Bland and Perez of steering “the movement away from its true course.”
Leaders of the Women’s March Inc. have faced calls to step down in wake of the controversy, which has also prompted both local organizers as well as high-profile figures and organizations to distance themselves from the once widely celebrated event.
The four march organizers have denied the allegations and resisted demands for their resignations, but Sarsour has publicly acknowledged that They were not “faster and clearer in helping people understand our values.”
“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 group said in a statement to the Daily News earlier this moth.
And despite such pleas for unity, an alternate women’s march has sprung up in protest and will be holding a parallel rally in New York on Saturday a few blocks away from the official New York Women’s March protest.
With News Wire Services