Women’s March founder calls for group’s leadership to step down
Teresa Shook, the woman who first suggested a women’s march following the inauguration of President Trump, is calling on four of the group’s leaders to step down, arguing they have steered the movement from its correct course.
Shook specifically called out Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc., for allowing “anti-Semitism, anti- LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric” to become a part of the platform.
“[My] original vision and intent was to show the capacity of human beings to stand in solidarity and love against the hateful rhetoric that had become a part of the political landscape in the U.S. and around the world,” Shook wrote on Facebook.
“I wanted us to prove that the majority of us are decent people who want a world that is fair, just and inclusive of Women and All people.”
“Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course,” she continued. “I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not.”
She called on all four to step down and to let other members of the movement take their place.
Sarsour, Mallory, Bland, and Perez issued a statement from the Women’s March Facebook page shortly after Shook’s post.
“Today, Teresa Shook weighed in, irresponsibly, as have other organizations attempting in this moment to take advantage of our growing pains to try and fracture our network,” they wrote, after thanking Shook for her contributions to the movement. “Groups that have benefited from our work but refuse to organize in accordance with our Unity Principles clearly have no interest in building the world our principles envision.”
“We are imperfect. We don’t know everything and we have caused harm,” the four wrote. “At times we have responded with hurt. But we are committed to learning.”
“Our ongoing work speaks for itself,” they wrote. “That’s our focus, not armchair critiques from those who want to take credit for our labor.”
This is not the first time criticism has been lodged at the leaders of the women’s march movement over anti-Semitism, a charged related to connections between some of the leaders and Louis Farrakhan, the founder of the Nation of Islam.
Actress and activist Alyssa Milano said earlier this month that she would not speak at any Women’s March events unless Sarsour and Mallory either denounce Farrakhan or step down from leadership, The Independent reports.
“Any time that there is any bigotry or anti-Semitism in that respect, it needs to be called out and addressed,” Milano said. “I’m disappointed in the leadership of the Women’s March that they haven’t done it adequately.”
Farrakhan has faced great criticism for his statements about Jewish people and last month compared them to termites, eliciting a wave of outrage.
Mallory earlier this year attended an event hosted by Farrakhan where the Nation of Islam leader declared that “powerful Jews are my enemy,” according to the Daily Beast.
The refusal of the leaders to denounce Farrakhan contributed to further anger within the group over the issue, the Daily Beast reported.
-Updated at 4:21 p.m.