Chicago Women’s March Events Canceled Under Shadow of National anti-Semitism Controversy

Initially citing ‘time and money,’ local group initially canceled procession, but vowed to hold alternative event. Now they say: ‘There’s no march, there’s no rally’

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People take part in the Women's March in Chicago, Illinois, January 20, 2018.
People take part in the Women's March in Chicago, Illinois, January 20, 2018.Credit: JOSHUA LOTT/ REUTERS

The 2019 Women’s March in Chicago has been canceled and previously-scheduled alternative plans have been nixed. The development marks the latest in a series of disruptions in the two-year-old movement following controversies surrounding the support of the national group’s leaders for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and related allegations of anti-Semitism.

The cancellation of a large scale march was announced several weeks ago by the Women’s March Chicago organization, citing limited “time, money and effort,” but in their announcement, they promised “an exciting WMC anniversary action.”

The event would have taken place on January 19th - the day marches are set to be held around the country for the third year in protest of U.S. President Donald Trump. Those who wished to participate were told to “stay tuned.”

However, the second event was not planned, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. The newspaper quoted Sara Kurensky, a Women’s March Chicago board member as saying, “There’s no march, there’s no rally.”

Though no further details were provided, she told the paper that “we’re going to provide ways for people to organize and take action in their local communities.”

Although the reasons for foregoing a march were not related to the controversy, she said, and that the Chicago group was not formally affiliated with the national organization Women’s March Inc., she did say a “side benefit” of canceling this year’s March was distancing itself from the embattled national organization.

Last spring, the Chicago chapter issued a statement saying that it “rejects Minister Louis Farrakhan's anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ views” and that “no universe exists in which it is acceptable to support anti-Semitic statements.”

Fallout from the controversy has affected the activity of Women’s March chapters across the country, with several local branches curtailing activities, cutting ties to the national group or issuing statements denouncing them, or even disbanding.

The national group and its leaders have attempted to counter criticism by issuing clarifications and apologies, and recently it was revealed that they have been working with progressive Jewish groups to repair their relationship with the Jewish community.