Controversial Women’s March Co-Chairperson Linda Sarsour is resisting mounting pressure to step down from her post as a leader of the massive female empowerment movement, pressure that now includes a call from the march’s founder for her to resign.
Sarsour, along with co-chairs Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, fired back after Women’s March Founder Teresa Shook wrote a scathing Facebook post suggesting that the four leaders have led the movement astray and should resign.
Charging that Shook “weighed in, irresponsibly,” Sarsour, Bland, Mallory and Perez wrote their own Facebook post defending themselves against accusations that they are too willing to tolerate anti-Semitism and anti-gay biases.
“We are imperfect. We don’t know everything and we have caused harm. At times we have responded with hurt. But we are committed to learning. We will continue to work through the good and the bad, the impact and the harm, of building an intersectional movement that our daughters, and our daughters’ daughters, can be proud of. Our ongoing work speaks for itself. That’s our focus, not armchair critiques from those who want to take credit for our labor,” the four leaders wrote.
Chief among Shook’s complaints was that the Women’s March leaders “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.”
Shook, a retired lawyer who lives in Hawaii, came up with the original idea for the Women’s March when she suggested in a Facebook post shortly after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 that women march in protest.
On Jan. 21, 2017, the day after Trump’s inauguration, 500,000 participants turned up in Washington, D.C. for the first Women’s March. Sarsour, Bland, Mallory and Perez organized the massive demonstration.
Sarsour, who was born and raised in Brooklyn, is the former executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, a Bay Ridge-based organization that serves the city’s growing Middle Eastern immigrant population.
Sarsour also came under fire earlier this month when actress-activist Alyssa Milano threatened to boycott the next Women’s March unless Sarsour and Mallory denounce shocking statements about Jews made by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.
Milano, the television star who is credited as a founder of the #MeToo Movement, told the Advocate in an interview that Sarsour and Mallory have not adequately addressed the issue of bigotry.
Mallory was sitting in the audience when Farrakhan told an audience, “The powerful Jews are my enemy,” the Advocate reported. When Mallory was criticized, Sarsour reportedly jumped to her colleague’s defense.
In response to Milano, the Women’s March leaders issued a statement defending Sarsour and Mallory and distancing themselves from Farrakhan.
“Women’s March leaders reject anti-Semitism in all its forms. We recognize the danger of hate rhetoric by public figures. We want to say emphatically that we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities,” the statement read.
The latest development are disheartening, according to Shook.
“Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the movement away from its true course. I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not,” Shook wrote.
The next Women’s March is set to take place on Jan. 19, 2019 in Washington D.C.