Teresa Shook, who first came up with the idea of a Women's March in response to Donald Trump's election as president, is demanding that four leaders of the march resign because they have let "anti-Semitism, anti- LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric" into the movement.
Shook made her statement Monday in a Facebook post:
"As Founder of the Women's March, 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. 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. We proved that on January 21, 2017 (and in the U.S. this past midterm with a diverse electorate).
"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. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they 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. I call for the current Co-Chairs to step down and to let others lead who can restore faith in the Movement and its original intent. I stand in Solidarity with all the Sister March Organizations, to bring the Movement back to its authentic purpose. As Women's March founder, I am stepping up to bring focus back to the Unity Principles on which our movement began, and with the support of all of those who marched and have continued to march, I pledge to support grassroots, decentralized leadership promoting a safe, worldwide community devoid of hate speech, bigotry and racism."
Mallory and Sarsour, co-presidents of the march, have particularly been under fire for their association with Nation of Islam leader Louis 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, this month, after criticism from activist celebrities including Alyssa Milano and Debra Messing, the march leaders issued a statement distancing themselves from Farrakhan while standing up for Mallory and Sarsour.
"Women's March wouldn't exist without the leadership of women of color, and we stand with Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory. Women's March leaders reject anti-Semitism in all its forms," the organization announced on Facebook. "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."
Then today, in response to Shook's post, Mallory, Sarsour, Bland, and Perez made clear they aren't going anywhere. They issued the following statement, again on Facebook.
"We want to thank Teresa Shook for her contribution to our movement, creating a Facebook event named the Million Women's March. That was the very beginning of the Women's March, which grew from a Facebook event into the largest single-day protest in US history, one led by women of color.
"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. 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. They have not done the work to mobilize women from diverse backgrounds across the nation.
"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.
"We are grateful for people who HAVE been with us for the past two years, wrestling with the challenges and opportunities of what we are trying to build. Our ongoing work speaks for itself. That's our focus, not armchair critiques from those who want to take credit for our labor."