CHICAGO (AP) - Organizers have decided not to host a Women's March in Chicago in January because of logistical issues, as accusations of anti-Semitism dog the national movement.
Local organizers blamed high costs and not enough volunteers as key reasons for not holding a rally, noting that they held an October event called March to the Polls that drew thousands of people in advance of the midterm election. Instead of holding a march in Chicago's Grant Park, local organizers are asking supporters to coordinate their own political or service activities, the Chicago Tribune reported.
An estimated 250,000 people participated in the initial Chicago march in January 2017. The heavier than expected turnout led organizers to reroute the march due to security concerns. Similar marches are scheduled to take place in cities around the world on Jan. 19, including Washington, D.C. and other cities in Illinois.
But infighting across the national Women's March movement arose after Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan praised Women's March Inc. co-president Tamika Mallory and declared Jews his enemy during an address in February. The movement has since splintered, with chapter members criticizing the Women's March leadership's response to Farrakhan's anti-Semitic rhetoric as being insufficient.
The Nation of Islam has been labeled an anti-Semitic hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Mallory later denounced the anti-Semitic statements. But Women's March chapters have continued to put pressure on movement leaders to step down, with one chapter disbanding over the issue.
The Chicago chapter responded to the controversy in March through a statement condemning "bigotry in all its forms."
"No universe exists in which it is acceptable to support anti-Semitic statements," the chapter wrote.
Sara Kurensky, a board member for Women's March Chicago, said the decision on Chicago events wasn't based on the recent controversy. But she called the opportunity to further distance the Chicago group from national Women's March leaders a "side benefit."
"That sort of infighting within the movement is very painful. It's very painful to watch," she said. "When a handful of leaders ... say something, they are not speaking for an entire movement."