- Associated Press - Sunday, January 20, 2019

The third Women’s March returned to Washington D.C. on Saturday with an estimated 100,000 protesters filling several blocks around Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House, holding a daylong rally.

Similar rallies, albeit shrunk in size from marches held the day after President Donald Trump was inaugurated two years ago, were held Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.

Organizers in D.C. said their message of anger and defiance was aimed at President Donald Trump’s White House, with fresh ammunition provided by the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault as a youth, and Mr. Trump’s hardline immigration policy.

An email blast from organizers aid they sought to “to help vulnerable people now.” However, the 2019 edition of the Women’s March was dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism from two leaders within the movement.

In November, Teresa Shook, one of the movement’s founders, accused the four main leaders of the national march organization of anti-Semitism. Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American, has frequently criticized Israeli policies; and Tamika Mallory has maintained a public association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

The four march organizers have denied the charge. But the fallout from the march included partners quietly walking away from the 2019 event, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, pro-choice political group Emily’s List, and the Democratic National Committee.

Sarsour has publicly expressed regret that they were not “faster and clearer in helping people understand our values.”

In New York, an alternate women’s march organization held a parallel rally a few miles away from the official New York Women’s March protest, and an activist actually disrupted the main protest.

As New York march director Agunda Okeyo was making her opening remarks, conservative provocateur Laura Loomer bombarded the stage and shouted that the march “does not represent Jewish people” and called it “the real Nazi march.”

Loomer’s previous protests have included handcuffing herself to a Twitter office after the service banned her and jumping a fence at a home owned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“This is not a negative day,” Okeyo said, as Loomer was ushered from the stage. “You’re not coming with that. We’re not doing that today. What we’re doing today is we’re going to uplift each other and we’re going to make sure we stay positive.”

In Washington, inclement weather and the federal government shutdown served as backdrops for Saturday’s event. With a forecast for snow and freezing rain, the march was moved from the National Mall to Freedom Plaza near the White House.

The speaker lineup ranged from Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, a surrogate for Bernie Sanders’ failed 2016 presidential campaign, to furloughed federal employee Jamie Rodny, a housing discrimination investigator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

As the march began to dissipate late in the afternoon, from the White House Mr. Trump announced a compromised offer on immigration reform and border security funding, hoping to break the stalemate with congressional Democrats.

An email from Ms. Sarsour later in the afternoon excoriated Mr. Trump’s announcement.

“It is outrageous that he would bemoan the humanitarian crisis and government shutdown that he himself created,” Ms. Sarsour wrote.

Similar to the march two years ago, participants waved signs lauding a host of progressive causes, including support for pro-choice policies and more general support for respect for women.

“Strong women only fear weak men,” one stated. Another stated, “MOOD: Still pretty mad about Kavanaugh.”

Parallel marches took place in dozens of cities around the country.

In Los Angeles, a few hundred demonstrators gathered in Pershing Square downtown and marched to Grand Park as the crowd swelled to thousands.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport and I came out to continue to stand for that proposition, said Ellen Klugman of Marina Del Rey. “If I don’t go, who will?”

In San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in the march and video on Twitter showed people clapping and cheering as she passed.

In Denver, protester Jacquelynn Sigl said it’s a mistake to focus solely on Trump.

“It’s not OK, the rhetoric the president has today, but it’s also important to know this isn’t an anti-Trump rally,” she said. “This isn’t about him. It’s about the thought that’s running across the country right now.”

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