Chicago won’t hold a Women’s March this year, organizers announced, citing high security costs and a shortage of volunteers.
Chicago activists said the decision wasn’t related to controversies over national march leaders’ association with homophobic, anti-Semitic Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan, the Associated Press reports. But they did say that distancing the Chicago event from the national organization was a “side benefit,” according to the AP.
“That sort of infighting within the movement is very painful. It's very painful to watch,” said Women's March Chicago board member Sara Kurensky. “When a handful of leaders ... say something, they are not speaking for an entire movement.”
Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour, national co-presidents of the march, have been under fire for their association with Farrakhan, who is known for sexist, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ statements. Mallory attended an incendiary speech by Farrakhan in March and for some time refused to denounce him, and Sarsour defended both Mallory and the Nation of Islam.
Finally, in November, after criticism from activist celebrities including Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing, the national march leaders issued a statement distancing themselves from Farrakhan while standing up for Mallory and Sarsour. But Teresa Shook, who first came up with the idea of a Women’s March in response to Donald Trump’s election as president, has called on Mallory, Sarsour, and other national march leaders to resign.
Women’s March Chicago organizers had responded to the Farrakhan controversy by condemning “bigotry in all its forms.”
The Women’s Marches will be held around the nation and world January 19. The Chicago group, which has usually hosted one of the largest marches, will plan an alternative activity for that day.