|Participants in the 2018 San Diego Women’s March carried signs as they walked on Pacific Highway.|
(Hayne Palmour IV U-T file)
"Women’s March looks to move past controversies" by John Wilkens, San Diego Union-Tribune 1/18/2019
(NOTE: From e-newspaper therefore no link)
Trademark dispute, anti-Semitic remarks cause rift in groups
The third annual Women’s March arrives in San Diego Saturday with local organizers distancing themselves from national leaders, who are embroiled in controversies over anti-Semitic remarks and other issues.
“Women’s March San Diego and Women’s March Inc. are separate organizations,” the local group’s executive board said in a home-page statement on its website. “We do not benefit financially from, and are not governed by Women’s March Inc.”
Similarly, the North County Women’s March, which is hosting an event in Oceanside Saturday, calls itself “a grassroots organization inspired by, but independent from” the national group.
The statements come after months of turmoil surrounding what started as a massive show of unity. On Jan. 21/2017, millions of women took to the streets in response to the previous day’s inauguration of President Donald Trump.
People carried signs, wore pink hats and chanted, and the energy at some 600 marches around the country helped fuel subsequent protests, the #MeToo movement, voter-registration drives and a record number of women elected to Congress.
But questions of inclusivity have dogged the Women’s March from its outset, and they’re getting louder after a year of controversy about the treatment of Jews, financial transparency and an effort by national leaders to trademark the event’s name.
In Washington, D.C., where the national group is again staging its main event Saturday, a competing march is planned by a splinter group. Multiple marches are taking place in New York and Philadelphia, too. In some places, the agitation over diversity has contributed to cancellations of marches.
High-profile supporters have backed away from the national event, including the Democratic National Committee and the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to The Daily Beast, less than half of the nearly 550 partners who supported the 2018 march signed up this year.
March backers attribute some of the trouble to inevitable growing pains. But much of it stems from ties between the national group’s leadership and Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, whose criticism of Jews has included calling them “termites.”
Tamika Mallory, one of the group’s four co-chairs, posted a photo of herself with Farrakhan at a Nation of Islam event. She’s credited the group with helping her after a relative was killed. Under the photo, she called Farrakhan “the GOAT” (greatest of all time).
She has since denounced anti-Semitism in writing and apologized for any harm she caused: “Every member of our movement matters to us.” But she has declined to condemn Farrakhan, which in some places has only fanned the flames of controversy.
“Jewish supporters of the Women’s March who are willing to overlook these egregious issues need to grow a moral backbone and confront evil whenever they see it rising,” Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista wrote in a commentary published last week in San Diego Jewish World.
On its website, Women’s March San Diego’s five-member executive board said, “We condemn anti-Semitism and any form of race or religion-based hate and will continue to work toward a more positive and just future.”
They added, “Since our inception, Women’s March San Diego has oriented our mission of harnessing the political power of diverse women and their communities toward creating transformative social change. We believe our diversity makes us stronger, and that working together is the best way to effect change.”
There has been some criticism of the local board’s makeup — “We don’t need another event that centers (on) white people,” one women wrote on Facebook — and the directors note on their website that “While diverse, we acknowledge there are essential voices missing from our table.”
San Diego leaders also oppose the attempt by the national organization to trademark the name “Women’s March,” which would give it control over how the brand is used.
National directors said they want to ensure a unified message for the dozens of like-named offshoots around the country, but many of the branches fear having to adopt national rules, being barred from using the name, or having to pay a fee for it.
Saturday’s rally and march here are scheduled to start at 10 a.m. at Waterfront Park in San Diego. Speakers include elected officials of various races, Native American leaders, a transgender advocate and a rabbi. North County San Diego Women in Solidarity is hosting a rally at the Oceanside Civic Center starting at 9:30 a.m. Participants are scheduled to march to the North County Transit Center before departing on the Coaster or a chartered bus at 10:30 a.m. to join the march in San Diego at noon.
And considering the turmoil surrounding the national organization, this year’s theme may carry added meaning: “Truth to Power.”
The Washington Post contributed to this report.