The 2019 Women’s March in New Orleans was cancelled Saturday due, in part, to concerns over the national Women’s March leadership's refusal to step down following allegations of anti-Semitism. The local chapter of the group had previously planned to hold its sister march on January 19th.
National Organization for Women’s Baton Rouge chapter, which had organized the 2018 Women’s March on New Orleans, explained the reasons for the cancellation in a Facebook post.
“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,” the group wrote on Facebook. “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.”
They concluded that it’s time to go beyond marches and look towards other avenues of political advocacy.
“However, this does not mean the end of our momentum in Louisiana,” they said. “It’s time to look past the marching and look towards a new stage of the movement.”
“Going forward, we will re-organize and re-evaluate the momentum that the Women’s March gave all of us the first two years,” they pledged. “It is important for everyone to reach out into our local communities and find ways to get involved in the meantime. There are many advocacy groups doing great work in our state that should be supported with your time and money.”
The group added that they will be refunding donations and t-shirt purchases.
The Women’s March's leadership has faced intense criticism over their ties to anti-Semitic leader Louis Farrakhan. In addition to their public praise of him, a report by the Tablet alleges that Women’s March co-chairs Carmen Perez and Tamika Mallory in one of their first meetings “asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade.”
The Tablet also reported that the Women’s March leaders had deeper ties with Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic Nation of Islam than previously known, including that they knowingly used Nation of Islam members to handle their security.
The group’s leaders admitted that the role of Jewish women was discussed in their first meeting.
“Since that conversation, we’ve all learned a lot about how while white Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy, ALL Jews are targeted by it,” Mallory said in a statement to The New York Times.
That comment earned her another round of criticism.
Mallory also faced scrutiny over her attendance at “Saviour’s Day” where Louis Farrakhan said Jews “were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men."
Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour has also maintained ties to Farrakhan and has praised the Nation of Islam.
Can't learn or teach about the history of Islam in America without talking about the Nation of Islam (NOI). #MYLS2014— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 25, 2014
She did issue an apology in November but did not mention Farrakhan by name in the statement.
“We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-Semitism. We regret that,” she wrote. “Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.”
The Women’s March's original founder Teresa Shook has recently called for the group’s leadership to step down over the anti-Semitism problem and actress Alyssa Milano pulled her support from the group over the controversy.
The New Orleans Women’s March is just the latest in a string of cancellations by sister marches. However, some of these cancellations are for different reasons including organizational decisions and, in the case of California, too many white people.
The national Women’s March is still set to take place on January 19th in D.C.