EXCLUSIVE: Chicago Women's March FIRES Back Over Cancellation Controversy

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 4:05 PM
EXCLUSIVE: Chicago Women's March FIRES Back Over Cancellation Controversy

With blistering contention in the air over recent controversy within and at Women's Marches around the country, the Chicago Women's March organization has decided to not host their annual march in January, originally set for the 19th. 

The organizers of the Women’s March Chicago cited the inadequate number of volunteers and high costs associated in carrying out the event as the modest reasoning for the cancellation. 

Sara Kurensky, a Women’s March Chicago board member told The Chicago Tribune, “There’s no march, there’s no rally...We’re going to provide ways for people to organize and take action in their local communities.”

The decision to cancel the march occurs during a time when the Chicago "chapter" appears to have a significant and growing rift between them and the national Women’s March leadership board. This follows many accusations of anti-Semitism ties in which the national group has to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Kurensky, who is associated with the Women's March Chicago, continued by declaring to The Chicago Tribune, “That sort of infighting within the movement is very painful. It’s very painful to watch...When a handful of leaders ... say something, they are not speaking for an entire movement.”

Yet, in an email to Townhall, the Chicago Women's March organization shared their side of the story. 

Spokesperson Harlene Ellin of the Chicago Women's March told Townhall that The Tribune's headline and reporting were "inaccurate and inflammatory." While also stating that since "The Tribune has apologized and updated the headline."

Ellin continued by stating to Townhall, "I'm sorry but the reality is not as 'sexy.' The march was not 'nixed' as the original Tribune headline stated. Women's March Chicago decided to hold our march early to have an impact on the midterm elections." 

"The decision to move the march to an earlier date was decided last spring," Ellin wrote. 

"As for a January march, we simply don't have the resources - in terms of volunteers and dollars - to host another major march so close to the October event. Instead, we have decided to mark our 3rd anniversary with Operation Activation. We are calling on our marchers to spearhead actions in their own community on January 19th that make people feel included, respected and represented, while encouraging others to activate."

"As you know, we are not affiliated with Women's March Inc. and our decision not to march in January has ZERO to do with what is happening at the national level...The mission of WMC is guided by Chicago area marchers and activists and is informed by the broader women's movement," Ellin concluded. 

In contrast, in a late November Facebook post organizers signaled that they would not hold another rally in January. 

One avid female marcher wrote, "I am highly disappointed Chicago Women's March. 300,000 people showed last year. This year is not the year to give up. Winning the House does not mean our work is done."

The cancellation takes place against a backdrop of controversy, as leaders of the national Women’s March have come under fire for their ties to Farrakhan, whose Nation of Islam is considered an anti-Semitic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In a February speech in which he praised Women’s March co-founder Tamika Mallory, Farrakhan said that “the powerful Jews are my enemy.” The national movement denounced the comments in March but faced criticism for waiting too long. Mallory has also applauded Farrakhan on social media.

Teresa Shook, a co-founder of the national movement, in November called for national leaders to step down, after having “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.” (VIA The Hill)

In recent months, the Women's March Chicago among other chapters in Washington State and elsewhere have been working to separate themselves from the national organization while being critical of the organization in which shares that same name and "pink hats." 

"As an additional point of clarification, and as many of you already know, Women's March Chicago is not now and never has been affiliated with Women's March Inc. We receive ZERO funding or organizational support from them and share NO common leadership," the Women's March Chicago stated in a Facebook post. 

In an attached press release the group went a step further to completely denounce Louis Farrakhan, which is in contrast to the national organization waiting and stalling to condemn his statements publicly. 

The national organization is set to hold their third annual march on Washington, D.C., called #WomensWave, which is scheduled for Jan. 19, 2019.

Townhall has reached out the National Women's March, but no comment has been received.