Leaders of the Washington State Women’s March are dissolving the state group in response to a growing controversy over anti-Semitism among leaders of the national Women’s March.
Angie Beem, as board president of Women’s March Washington, announced the dissolution of the state group on Facebook on Thursday.
“I and my team can’t sit idly by and ignore the antisemitism the four National Team co-chairs have supported and continue to support. In a time that racism is being empowered, we cannot be ambivalent,” she wrote.
National leaders Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour have been under fire for their ties to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, the Spokane Spokesman reported.
“Continuing to be a part of the Women’s March with the blatant bigotry they display would be breaking a promise. We can’t betray our Jewish community by remaining a part of this organization” Beem wrote.
“The Women’s March was born by Teresa Shook to be a powerful movement to fight against racism, sexism, and the issues that oppress our marginalized and vulnerable. The four National Team co-chairs have lost sight of that and have allowed their personal biases to cloud our mission and purpose,” she added.
She said that the time had come for action.
“Because of the events happening at the national level and their refusal to acknowledge and apologize for their anti-Semitic stance, we have decided to dissolve our Women+s March on Washington State organization in order to separate from the National message that is being sent, both from a social justice standpoint and a financial standpoint. We have conveyed the message, multiple times, that WMWS does not agree nor support their praise of Farrakhan and all he stands for,” she wrote.
In an interview with The Tablet, Beem recalled the initial furor over Mallory’s attendance at an event during which Farrakhan denounced Jews.
“Many of us were upset,” Beem said. “She is the face of a women’s march, and our mission and values are equality and inclusion. To openly praise someone like this went against everything we were supposed to stand by.”
Beem said Mallory defended Farrakhan, supported by Perez and Bland.
“They said to us: ‘You know, he has done some great things for people of color.’ They didn’t denounce anything he said, they only did that recently. Some state people supported them and some who were very brave stood up to them. One woman said something like, ‘Just because somebody does one good thing doesn’t mean they are excused for everything else.’ They said, ‘We hear you.’ But then they refused to do anything about it,” she said.
Local Washington State organizers knew something was brewing, but did not know until last week that the state would sever ties with the national organization, said Lori Feagan, an organizer with Spokane Women’s March, who said the impact is minimal.
“We are independent,” Feagan said. “We don’t have any financial backing (from) the state or national organization.”
Beem said on Facebook that the decision was not easy.
“It is difficult for us to walk away from something that has literally changed our lives. But, we have to. It wasn’t an easy decision. But it’s the right thing to do,” she wrote.
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