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Women’s March returns to DC amid shutdown and controversy

The third annual Women’s March returned to Washington, DC, among other cities, today despite inclement weather, ideological schisms and the longest government shutdown in American history.

Among the famous faces seen at Women’s March Saturday was wave-making Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, the youngest women ever elected to Congress, who is set to speak at both the New York City Women’s March and the off-shoot Women’s Unity Rally. Gloria Steinem, meanwhile, was also spotted at the Women’s Unite Rally in NYC.  

The original Women’s March in 2017 drew hundreds of thousands of protesters; the exact size of the turnout is still subject to politically charged debate, but it’s generally regarded as the largest Washington protest since the Vietnam era. 

This year, organizers submitted a permit application estimating up to 500,000 people but the actual turnout is expected to be far lower. Parallel marches will be held in dozens of U.S. cities.

Trump baby balloons were seen flying overhead during the 2019 Women’s March on Saturday in Washington, DC, despite the government shutdown and forecasting of inclement weather

Snow and freezing rain predictions led march organizers to move the gathering place from the National Mall, which wouldn't be plowed due to the shutdown, to Freedom Plaza (pictured) 

Snow and freezing rain predictions led march organizers to move the gathering place from the National Mall, which wouldn’t be plowed due to the shutdown, to Freedom Plaza (pictured) 

Wave-making Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, was spotted Saturday at the  New York City Women's March where she's set to speak. She'll also speak at off-shoot Women's Unity Rally

Wave-making Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, was spotted Saturday at the New York City Women’s March where she’s set to speak. She’ll also speak at off-shoot Women’s Unity Rally

Organizers had originally planned to gather Saturday on the National Mall, but with the forecast predicting snow and freezing rain Saturday and the National Park Service no longer plowing the snow, the march’s location and route was altered this week to start at Freedom Plaza and march down Pennsylvania Avenue past the Trump International Hotel.

The 2019 year march has also been roiled by an intense ideological debate. 

In November 2018, Teresa Shook, one of the movement’s founders, publicly accused the four main leaders of the national march organization of anti-Semitism.  

Shook, a retired attorney from Hawaii, has been credited with sparking the entire movement by creating a Facebook event that went viral and snowballed into the massive protest on January 21, 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. 

Attendees at the Women's March in Washington, DC, held up a variety of signs Saturday

Attendees at the Women’s March in Washington, DC, held up a variety of signs Saturday

One woman was spotted wearing a coat referencing Melania Trump's infamous 'I really don't care do U?' coat which she sported in June during the height of the family separation crisis

One woman was spotted wearing a coat referencing Melania Trump’s infamous ‘I really don’t care do U?’ coat which she sported in June during the height of the family separation crisis

The DC march route took protesters past the Trump International Hotel 

The DC march route took protesters past the Trump International Hotel 

Gloria Steinem was spotted at the off-shoot Women's Unite Rally in New York City on Saturday

Gloria Steinem was spotted at the off-shoot Women’s Unite Rally in New York City on Saturday

In the November 19 Facebook post, she claimed Women’s March leaders Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, along with fellow organizers Bob Bland and Carmen Perez, had ‘steered the Movement away from its true course’ and called for all four to step down. 

‘In opposition to our Unity Principles,’ Shook wrote, ‘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.’ 

This accusation was targeted specifically at two primary leaders: Sarsour, a Palestinian-American with a long history of criticizing Israeli policy, and Mallory, who has maintained a longstanding association with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. 

Farrakhan has been criticized for making anti-Semitic statements during speeches, including referencing ‘Satanic Jews’ and saying that ‘powerful Jews are my enemy’ at a February 2018 speech that Mallory attended, according to ADL.  

Following a lengthy article highlighting accusations of anti-Semitism within the Women’s March leadership, which appeared in Tablet in December, the Women’s March organizers apparently added three Jewish women to its steering committee. Meanwhile, Mallory and Sarsour met with rabbis, many of who then encouraged Jewish women to participate in the 2019 march. 

The 2019 march comes at a time when the Women's March organization leadership, including Linda Sarsour (left) and Tamika Mallory (right), faces accusations of anti-Semitism 

The 2019 march comes at a time when the Women’s March organization leadership, including Linda Sarsour (left) and Tamika Mallory (right), faces accusations of anti-Semitism 

There has been a call for the Women's March leadership, including Carmen Perez (pictured) and Bob Bland, to step down after steering 'the Movement away from its true course'

Women's March leader Bob Bland

There has been a call for the Women’s March leadership, including Carmen Perez (left) and Bob Bland (right), to step down after steering ‘the Movement away from its true course’ 

The 2019 march's new route, which passes the Trump International Hotel, is pictured here

The 2019 march’s new route, which passes the Trump International Hotel, is pictured here

However, Mallory recently came under fire after failing to condemn Farrakhan while appearing on The View on January 14. 

Instead of trying to distance herself from Farrakhan or condemn his antisemitic views, she said she admired him not for ‘rhetoric,’ but for ‘what he’s done in black communities’ and said, ‘I don’t agree with many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements.’ 

In the wake of Mallory’s interview, the New York Times said that the Democratic National Committee appeared to publicly pull out of its partnership with the 2019 march, as did groups including Naral and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The four march organizers have denied the anti-Semitism charge, but Sarsour has publicly expressed regret that they were not ‘faster and clearer in helping people understand our values.’

Despite pleas for unity, an alternate women’s march has sprung up in protest and will be holding a parallel rally in New York on Saturday a few blocks away from the official New York Women’s March protest.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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