Organizers of the Women’s March in New Orleans have decided to cancel their Jan. 19 sister march, saying that participation and fundraising have dropped “drastically” in the wake of outrage surrounding the national co-chairs.
“Due to several issues we have decided it is necessary to cancel the 2019 Women’s March in New Orleans,” said a Saturday post on the National Organization for Women’s Baton Rouge chapter on Facebook.
The announcement by the NOW chapter, which organized the 2018 Women’s March on New Orleans, comes with the four co-chairs — Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour — facing escalating calls to resign.
“Many of the sister marches have asked the leaders of Women’s March, Inc. to resign but as of today, they have yet to do so,” said the NOW Baton Rouge statement. “The controversy is dampening efforts of sister marches to fundraise, enlist involvement, find sponsors and attendee numbers have drastically declined this year. New Orleans is no exception.”
The group also said it would shift its focus away from the January marches. The first Women’s March was held the day after President Trump was inaugurated in 2017 to protest his election.
“However, this does not mean the end of our momentum in Louisiana,” the statement said. “It’s time to look past the marching and look towards a new stage of the movement.”
The New Orleans cancellation comes as other sister marches — including those in Chicago and Humboldt County, California — also opt out of this year’s march over growing opposition to the Women’s March leadership.
Three of the co-chairs — Ms. Mallory, Ms. Perez and Ms. Sarsour — have long faced criticism for their associations with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, described by the Anti-Defamation League as “America’s leading anti-Semite.”
The outrage intensified with December reports in the Jewish magazine Tablet and The New York Times alleging that Ms. Mallory and Ms. Perez lambasted a Jewish co-founder, Vanessa Wruble, accusing Jews of promoting racism.
Ms. Wruble, who said she was pushed out of the organization, now leads March On, a feminist group that explicitly rejects anti-Semitism.
Ms. Mallory and Ms. Perez told The Times that they discussed the role of Jewish women, but denied allegations of anti-Semitism and said that their decision to ask Ms. Wruble to leave the group had nothing to do with her being Jewish.
In Facebook comments, supporters of NOW Baton Rouge criticized the co-chairs. “[L]eaders like this need to go,” said George Revutsky, to which Leatta Purdue replied, “What a disaster.”
“It really was!” NOW Baton Rouge said. “A terrible way to derail everything, but maybe it is time for a re-tooling? Obviously, it really sucked the joy and life out of the work for this one.”
The organizers said they hoped to spend the day instead engaged in service projects.
The Women’s March national group plans to hold its third rally Jan. 19 on the National Mall in D.C.