Washington (AFP) – Three founding members of the “Women’s March” movement that spearheaded mass protests against Donald Trump’s inauguration have resigned, as the group grapples with allegations of anti-Semitism.
In a statement published on the organization’s website late Monday, the group announced the departure of Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland and Linda Sarsour.
They “will transition off of the Women’s March Board and onto other projects focused on advocacy within their respective organizations,” the statement said.
Mallory, Bland and Sarsour had originally stepped down in July, after months of controversy over allegations of anti-Semitism, but this is the group’s first official announcement about their leaving.
Fourth founding member Carmen Perez-Jordan, who had also been called on to resign, “will continue to lend her expertise” to the group, the statement said.
The group has also added 17 new “movement leaders,” including three Jewish women, a transgender woman, two religious leaders, a former legislator and a member of the Oglala tribe of the Lakota nation.
Tensions had apparently been brewing within the movement since it launched after Trump’s election in 2016, with Mallory and Perez-Jordan reportedly expressing anti-Semitic views at the group’s first meeting.
Jewish march organizer Vanessa Wruble, another original member, ultimately left the group and founded a parallel organization, March On, in 2017.
The Women’s March began publicly battling accusations of anti-Semitism against its officers towards the end of 2018.
At issue were Mallory’s ties to controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and her failure to condemn disparaging remarks about Jews he made at an event she attended.
In November 2018, Teresa Shook, the first woman to float the idea of a women’s march, had called for Mallory, Perez-Jordan, Sarsour and Bland to resign over the scandals.
Sarsour denied the allegations at the time, saying in a statement: “The Women’s March exists to fight bigotry and discrimination in all their forms — including homophobia and anti-Semitism.”
The organization also explicitly said it did not “support or endorse” statements made by Farrakhan.
But the controversy has driven some women to leave and align with Wruble.