Women’s March Founder From Maui Declines Participation in Anniversary Event

December 3, 2018, 11:09 AM HST · Updated December 3, 11:10 AM
Wendy Osher · 1 Comment
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Shook being honored on Maui at the Haʻikū Flower Fest. PC: File April 2017

Teresa Shook, the Hawaiʻi woman who founded the Women’s March, publicly called for the four leaders of the Women’s March Inc. to step down.

Shook is calling for Bob Bland, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez to remove themselves from the 501c4 New York-based organization citing concerns raised over alleged “lack of financial accountability for millions of dollars donated to the movement.”

Shook issued a statement on Sunday to all grassroots organizers across the nation, who she acknowledges as “the genuine leaders of the massive movement.”

She also has since declined participation at the Women’s March Washington DC 2019 anniversary event which is scheduled to take place on Jan. 19, 2019.

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The full text of Shook’s statement is posted below:

“After careful consideration, I have decided that I will not be attending or speaking at this year’s Anniversary event for the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.. However, I do not in anyway minimize the roots of the historic March of 2017, the resulting global Movement, or our accomplishments. 

The work of the hundreds of you who mobilized millions is a testament to the ability of women to make the impossible-possible when working towards a common goal. I will continue towards our common goals now and in the future.

I am very proud of the hundreds of thousands of people who “activated” on that day, nearly two years ago, and who continue in the sister grassroots organizations which make this Movement strong. To every unpaid organizer or activist fighting the good fight, to every headstrong marcher diligently showing up against adversity and injustice: your actions—big or small—have made a historic difference! The diversity of the new electorate in the U.S. House of Representatives is but one example. 

I will always celebrate those of you making the world a better place for all women. But we have much work yet to do towards empowering and uplifting each other and ending racism, bigotry, and hate-speech. 

Call me idealistic but in the end, love and aloha always wins.  We will rise up together, however long it takes. And I will continue to be with you as we collectively move forward and grow our movement.”

The latest statement comes following recent criticism against the Women’s March, Inc. leadership from members of the Jewish and LGBTQ community.

In a public Facebook post on Nov. 19, 2018, Shook addressed the issue saying the four had “steered the Movement away from its true course.”  The full text of her post is included below:

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“As Founder of the Women’s March, my original vision and intent was to show the capacity of human beings to stand in solidarity and love against the hateful rhetoric that had become a part of the political landscape in the U.S. and around the world. I wanted us to prove that the majority of us are decent people who want a world that is fair, just and inclusive of Women and All people. We proved that on January 21, 2017 (and in the U.S. this past midterm with a diverse electorate).

Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course. I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti- LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs. I call for the current Co-Chairs to step down and to let others lead who can restore faith in the Movement and its original intent. I stand in Solidarity with all the Sister March Organizations, to bring the Movement back to its authentic purpose. As Women’s March founder, I am stepping up to bring focus back to the Unity Principles on which our movement began, and with the support of all of those who marched and have continued to march, I pledge to support grassroots, decentralized leadership promoting a safe, worldwide community devoid of hate speech, bigotry and racism.”

Women’s March National Organizer Linda Sarsour released a statement in response what she called “recent confusion and critiques over the values and direction of Women’s March,” amid criticism from Jewish and LGBTQ membersAs of the time of this publication the organization’s website had a comment about the discrimination claims, but no rebuttal statement or contact information was available on the organization’s site about the latest criticism.

The organization does have an annual report posted on their site with a breakdown of expenses for 2017.  The report shows net revenue, gains and other support totaling $3.79 million for the year; and total expenses in excess of $2.9 million, including $703,864 in salaries and benefits and $255,747 for consultants and contractors.  There’s also $1,264,047 itemized for service and professional fees, with a note that this included $1,261,763 in pro-bono legal services.

The full text of the letter dated Nov. 20, 2018 is posted below:

“The Women’s March exists to fight bigotry and discrimination in all their forms — including homophobia and anti-semitism — and to lift up the voices of women who are too often left out.

We believe in a world where women from all backgrounds are equally represented in government, media, politics, and everywhere and invite everyone who shares these values to join us.

It’s become clear, amidst this media storm, that our values and our message have — too often — been lost. That loss caused a lot of harm, and a lot pain. We should have been faster and clearer in helping people understand our values and our commitment to fighting anti-semitism. We regret that.

Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members. We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.

Trying to dismantle oppression, while working within systems of oppression, is hard. We are deeply invested in building better and deeper relationships with the Jewish community. And we’re committed to deepening relationships with any community who has felt left out of this movement. We want to create space where all are welcome.

We are trying to build an intersectional women’s movement. That is a monumental task that is hard, it is messy. We are here for every hard conversation, we are thankful for the folks who have reached out to us directly, and who have spoken up more broadly, and we extend an invitation to everyone who has not yet reached out to do so.”

Other grass roots groups have issued a warning against “spam marches,” and are advising those interested in the movement to go with the group that they feel best reflects their values.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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