WOMEN
09/16/2019 18:13 EDT | Updated 09/17/2019 02:05 EDT

3 Original Board Members Leave Women’s March

Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland have all stepped down from their positions as Women's March co-chairs.

Three high-profile co-chairs of the Women’s March are leaving after the organization experienced months of infighting, according to a Monday report from the Washington Post.

Co-chairs Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Bob Bland stepped down from their positions on the national organization’s board on July 15, the report said, but the announcement was formally made this week.

Aaron J. Thornton via Getty Images
March Organizers Bob Bland, Tamika D. Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Carmen Perez-Jordan speak onstage during the Women's March on Jan. 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

The Women’s March issued a statement to the Washington Post saying the three inaugural members will “transition off of the Women’s March Board and onto other projects focused on advocacy within their respective organizations.” The organization posted a tweet saying the departures were pre-planned.

Since its founding in 2016, the national chapter has been embroiled in a controversy that has shown the delicacy required from political organizations with several differing factions. Bland, Mallory, Sarsour, and co-chair Carmen Perez were among the movement’s most prominent figures facing accusations of anti-Semitism. Of the four, only Perez is expected to stay, according to reports.

Media scrutinized Mallory after she attended a February 2018 event keynoted by Minister Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. Following reports, several Women’s March members — including the founder Theresa Shook— and supporting organizations withdrew their support for the national chapter ahead of its 2019 march. Shook even called on the four Women’s March co-chairs to resign after reports showed Mallory, Sarsour and Perez speaking favorably of the minister. Farrakhan, who has publicly praised Trump in the past, has been condemned for making anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ and sexist remarks.

In addition to criticism from within their organization, Mallory, Sarsour and Perez have also faced vicious attacks from conservatives aiming to paint them as threats to the United States.

Sarsour, specifically, has drawn ire for criticizing Israel’s policies and its treatment of Palestinians. Conservative media have routinely and unfoundedly referred to her as a terrorist sympathizer, and in 2017 reports falsely claimed she declared a violent jihad against the president.

With the co-chairs resigning, the Women’s March announced 16 incoming board members, which include women of various faiths from across the country. The national organization has previously been dogged by criticism about its board members being concentrated in large cities rather than rural areas.

“I am grateful to the women who stepped up to shepherd the Women’s March,” Sarsour told the Post of the new members. “This is what women supporting women looks like.”