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Women’s March Cut Ties with Sarsour & Mallory Over Antisemitism Complaints

Women’s March Co-Chairs Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory speak during the Power to the Polls voter-registration tour last year in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The Women’s March is cutting ties with three inaugural board members who have been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism, infighting and financial mismanagement — controversies some say have slowed the organization’s progress and diminished its impact.

Co-Chairs Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour stepped down from the board July 15, though the organization has been slow to announce their departures. The Women’s March website continued to host their photos and titles as co-chairs through this week, when the group announced the board turnover.

A diverse cast of 16 new board members that includes three Jewish women, a transgender woman, a former legislator, two religious leaders and a member of the Oglala tribe of the Lakota nation will inherit an organization recovering from a failed attempt to trademark the Women’s March name and fractured relationships with local activist groups and the Jewish community.

The shake-up comes at a critical time for the organization. With the 2020 election kicking into high gear, experts said organizers can no longer afford the distractions and controversies that have muddled the group’s message and loomed over its every move.

“There’s an opportunity here for a group to rise out of the ashes of divisiveness and continue on with the mission that was the Women’s March, and, honestly, that would be wonderful,” said Dana R. Fisher, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland who studies and tracks protest movements. “There were so many things that were odd decisions, and decisions that made it unclear whether they actually cared about building toward a blue wave and building on the energy and enthusiasm that was built in 2017.”

Bland and Mallory, who served as co-presidents of the organization, will be formally replaced when the new board convenes for its first meeting this month. Once assembled, officials said, the incoming board will elect new leadership.

Calls for the co-chairs to resign rose to a crescendo ahead of the 2019 Women’s March on Washington, which drew thousands of women to the District in January sporting the movement’s telltale pink hats.

Co-Chair Carmen Perez, who runs the Gathering for Justice — a criminal justice reform group that seeks to end child incarceration and reform the justice system at large — will stay.

Mallory didn’t respond to requests for comment on her departure, although the organization issued a statement Monday that said the three would “transition off of the Women’s March Board and onto other projects focused on advocacy within their respective organizations.”

Reached via text message, Sarsour said the new Women’s March board is “AMAZING,” adding that she will continue working to get voters to the polls in 2020.

“I am grateful to the women who stepped up to shepherd the Women’s March,” she wrote. “This is what women supporting women looks like.”

Bland said the changeover was long planned by the outgoing leadership.

The new board members — several of whom acknowledged that the organization has made “mistakes and missteps” in the past — were selected by a nominating committee.

The new board members are:

• Samia Assed, a Palestinian American activist from New Mexico who serves on the board of the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice.

• Zahra Billoo, a civil rights attorney and executive director of the San Francisco Bay area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2019/09/16/womens-march-cutting-ties-with-three-original-board-members-accused-anti-semitism/