The Women’s March, beset by controversy while preparing for weekend rallies in Washington and other cities across the United States, won’t have a major supporter by its side.
The Democratic National Committee’s name was removed Tuesday from the list of sponsors for Saturday’s event in the nation’s capital, organized by New York-based Women’s March Inc.
Some of the group’s members have been accused of holding anti-Semitic views, and the criticism only intensified when WMI co-president Tamika Mallory appeared Monday on ABC’s “The View’’ and declined to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made several derogatory remarks about Jews.
DNC officials would not comment on the reason or the timing for its name no longer appearing on the sponsor list, but issued a statement in support of women's rights.
“The DNC stands in solidarity with all those fighting for women's rights and holding the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers across the country accountable. Women are on the front lines of fighting back against this administration and are the core of our Democratic Party," the statement read.
Individual elected officials are free to participate in Women's March activities if they so choose, the DNC said.
Women’s March Inc. leaders did not respond to USA TODAY's requests for comment, but during Monday’s appearance on “The View,’’ co-president Bob Bland said, “The Women’s March unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism, bigotry … we condemn any statements of hate.’’
However, in a May 2017 posting on her Facebook account, Mallory appears in a photo alongside Farrakhan next to a caption that reads, “Thank God this man is still alive and doing well. He is definitely the GOAT.’’
GOAT is short for Greatest Of All Time.
When confronted by co-host Meghan McCain about Farrakhan’s remarks, which have included references to “satanic Jews’’ and compared them to “termites,’’ Mallory said, “I don’t agree with many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements.’’
Pressed by McCain, Mallory said, “It’s not my language. It’s not the way that I speak. It is not how I organize.’’
WMI officials had previously come under fire for their slow response to Farrakhan’s comments and to accusations of anti-Semitism by former members.
The Daily Beast reported that less than half of the nearly 550 partners listed last year have returned for 2019.
The 2017 Women’s March, held the day after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, drew an estimated 700,000 participants in Washington and a total of approximately 4 million nationwide, many of them carrying signs repudiating Trump.
The event lost steam in its second iteration last January, but cities like Los Angeles (600,000), Chicago (300,000) and New York (200,000) still reported rallies with crowds in the six figures. WMI did not organize those marches.
Hopes were initially high for this year’s turnout, especially after a record 102 women were elected to the House of Representatives in the November midterms, but now the event is clouded in controversy.
Dana R. Fisher, a University of Maryland sociology professor who has studied activism and American politics, said WMI has tried to co-opt the movement and may be hurting it now.
“The movement is not just one organization,’’ Fisher said. “It is extremely unfortunate there is this implosion going on. It’s really distracting, and it’s very possible it’s going to distract from turnout.’’
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democratic National Committee out as Women's March sponsor amid anti-Semitism controversy