In the first record-breaking year, the Women & # 39; s March brought together nearly 4 million people in a simultaneous primal scream against the new president. But two years later, the unit is frayed as a well-worn powder cap, with power struggles spreading in the run-up to marches that will be held Saturday, January 19, throughout the country.

The original Washington, DC, March organizers, who now operate as the non-profit Women's March Inc., have applied for a trademark called Women & # 39; s March & # 39; organizers are shocked to fear that they will have to pay to use it. At the same time, some of the local "sister protesters" are distancing themselves from national leaders who have been struck by accusations of anti-Semitism.

Groups that organized marches in 2017 and 2018 but decided not to take part this year, have let parliamentary groups take the step to the void. And at least two cities will hold two dueling marches this year: one organized by a national chapter on women's march and one by the local groups that organized the event in recent years.

The result: amid all the excitement about this year's birthday, there is also confusion, frustration and in some cases anger.

"I find it sad for the movement when we all try to unite and we can not even come together for a march."

– Emiliana Guereca

"I find it sad for the movement when we all try to unite and we can not even come together for a march," said Emiliana Guereca, an organizer of the Los Angeles Women's March. "At the moment it feels like people say that this is a national organization, but it is not."

It is a wonderful turnaround for an event that was the most visited protest in the history of the United States from the outset. The original march started as a Facebook event created by retired lawyer Teresa Shook, who suggested a day program in Washington the day after the Donald Trump election. A similar idea was drafted by New York designer Bob Bland, and the two joined forces – with the addition of activists Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez – to plan what the Women's March on Washington became.

At the same time hundreds of local activists from Anchorage to Auckland were inspired to hold their own rallies on the same day. Some aspired to the Washington team for support and inspiration; others planned independently. Although somewhat hurried and scattered, the result of the efforts was an unmistakable tidal wave: almost 470,000 people flooded the National Mall on January 21, 2017, along with millions of others marching in concert around the world – the women's marches solidify as a powerful force in the American politics.

In the following years, the organizers of the march have moved to Washington to expand their reach, hold conferences, create streamlined brand material, and officially recognize official departments across the country. They have also given demonstrations throughout the year, such as the protest against the supreme supreme court candidate, Brett Kavanaugh, who moved hundreds to the capital in October.

But the effort has been undermined by accusations that some national leaders have made anti-Semitic remarks or refused to condemn the leader of the nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan. The San Diego Women & # 39; s March now states on its website that it "never had a formal relationship with the Women's March, Inc." section. and Women & # 39; s March Florida has issued a statement stating that the national group is "a separate legal entity". New Orleans organizers completely canceled their event, partly because of the controversy.

Other disputes have been played out hyper-locally. Some regional organizers were confronted with accusations that they are not inclusive groups, including black women, disabled women, and members of the LGBTQ community. In Eureka, California, the organizers have announced that they will leave control of future marches to activists of color because their current leadership is "overwhelmingly white".

In different cities, the conflicts raise questions that still have to be answered: who really owns the women's march – and who should be?


In the City of Brotherhood this year two women's marches can be chosen.

An independent group called Philly Women Rally has attracted thousands of people to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for women's marches over the past two years. But it has also been sucked by the internal drama, with board members accusing founder Emily Cooper Morse of making racist and transphobic remarks and stealing $ 19,000 from the bank charges of the group she has denied.

The board voted late last year to expel Cooper Morse and shook his make-up to include a Latina trans woman and two other women of color. But when the group started planning its third march, the board heard that another group already had a permit for the same day, said board member Salima Suswell to The Daily Beast.

"Really, the better, the better."

– Shawna Knipper

The new applicant was Shawna Knipper, executive director of Women & # 39; s March Pennsylvania, who is affiliated with the national organization. Winker, who does not live in Philadelphia, said she knew a local group was visiting a women's march in Philadelphia that day because her chapter helped women get there in the past.

But Knipper said she felt called to organize her own march this year because of the unrest in the other group and a desire to emphasize the work her chapter does throughout the year. As she said: "When we talk about what the Women & # 39; s March does, there is no other organization that can speak better than we do." (Women & # 39; s March Inc. said they encourage chapters to work with local activists, but leave the final decision on organizing a march to capitals.)

But why did a rural group choose Philly for his march? Winker, who said that she communicated her plans to Cooper Morse prior to the deposition, called the & # 39; hundreds & hundreds & # 39; advocates in the city where her chapter wanted to engage. And she repeatedly denied that the hosting of two simultaneous rallies sowed division.

"Really," she said, "it's the more the better."

Both groups claim that there is no animosity. Winker praised the new board of Philly Women Rally as & # 39; marvelously diverse & # 39; and Suswell said that the organizations have a & # 39; great relationship & # 39; to have. But there seems to be some confusion in the broader community.

"Why are there two separate departure locations for march?" Wrote a woman on Facebook. "Why can not we join forces and consolidate?"

"This disagreement is soooo … exaggerated," another added. "We must work together or the effectiveness of the" golf "is fruitless!"

New York

The situation is less friendly in New York, where the news of two simultaneous marches has ignited the headlines: "Women's competitive march attempts in New York are undermined by mutual struggle."

The controversy stems from a disagreement between the former Goldman Sachs project manager Katherine Siemionko, who helped organize the previous two marches in New York, and members of the national organization.

According to Siemionko, the march of New York began as many across the country: she reached out to the organizers in Washington about her plans and was connected with other activists in her area.

But e-mails show that relationships were already soured before the 2017 event, because Siemionko clashed with the national leadership about how much control they would have. After that Siemionko announced that she would start her own non-profit, Women's March Alliance, and invited the national leadership to discuss the plan. She said they did not respond.

Last year, during the expansion, the national organization recognized its first official chapter in New York City, led by activist and film producer Agunda Okeyo. The chapter started with hosting events and announced plans for a 2019 anniversary rally for women in September.

Angry, Siemionko informed Women & # 39; s March Inc. that she owned the only March license in New York City for that date. The two groups eventually set up a telephone conversation to work together, but Siemionko said it only made things worse. Linda Sarsour, she said, was "threatening" and demanded a place on the board of the Women & # 39; s March Alliance.

The national organization denies that Sarsour threatened on the phone. A statement stated that repeated attempts to work with Siemionko failed because "there was no agreement on the inclusion of leader representatives and a reflection of the entire population of New York City."

In the end, New York, just like Philly, was left with two events on the same day.

Okeyo said she was aware of the upset that this caused, but felt she had a mandate to organize the event on the same day as the nearly 40 other sister chapters.

"There is only one chapter of Women & # 39; s March [Inc.] in New York, & # 39; she said. "We are here to say that women have done an excellent job over the last two years and that this is a moment of celebration and uplifting, it is not a moment of conflict … It should be a moment of positivity."

Siemionko was angry that the Okeyo group had not made alternative plans.

"It's like," What the hell is there? & # 39; " Siemionko said. "These are clearly women who do not support the rights of women, you do not enter someone else's city and say:" I am not behind you, I am going to fight you. "


In Georgia, the local Women & # 39; s March Inc. chapter did not decide to hold a rally for the second year because she was the day after the Martin Luther King Jr. march. no longer wanted to overshadow.

It was therefore a surprise when a page appeared on Facebook for an event on January 19, the Women's March in Atlanta, with Rep. Lucy McBath. The meeting was the work of Gloria Moore, a local activist who worried about the lack of a march last year. This year she decided to join forces with the organization of Siemionko to set up one in Atlanta.

More than 1,000 people have marked themselves as interested or present on Facebook, but Moore feels that members of the national Women's March chapter, known as the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice (GASJ), are undermining it. During a recent meeting with black leaders at Spelman College, Moore said, she stood up to correct an alliance member who told the public that no march was planned in the city.

"They want to own the movement," Moore told The Daily Beast. "It's like going to the copyright office and saying:" We want the copyright of the Women & # 39; s March. "How absurd! That does not belong to them. & # 39;

Janel Green, Executive Director of GASJ, once denied discouraging Moore from keeping her own event or intimidating others from attending. From the new organizers she said: "I think if that is how they want to express themselves on the day, that's what they want to do, for each its own."


In the small beach town of Eureka, California, the debate about who governs the march of women is not conducted between national and local leaders, but on identity lines. And it is fought by two groups of mostly older white women.

In December, the organizers of the last two Eureka draft margins decided to postpone their 2019 event, giving the headline explanation that the leadership committee was "overwhelmingly white".

Beth Ann Wylie, one of the organizers, told The Daily Beast that the leadership – an assortment of volunteers who had been blogged together via Facebook groups and e-mailthreads – came to the conclusion this year that they were badly lacking in women of color, indigenous women and members of the LGBTQ community. They decided to put things on hold until they could rectify it.

"It did not feel authentic to move forward and hold a march without these voices present to tell us what kind of event would help to raise awareness of their struggle," Wylie said. "How is it our decision to make? It is not our decision to decide what that event looks like. & # 39;

Although the decision was praised by tribal leaders and the local NAACP chapter, the response was rapid. Conservative outliers mocked the decision as an example of political correctness, and local women protested on the Eureka Women's March page.

Within a few days, a new Facebook page appeared to promote another women's exhibition in Eureka in 2019. Approximately 1,000 people have declared themselves interested or present and many have expressed their excitement about getting a second chance to enter the streets.

But the new march has had its own repercussions, with a number of activists calling it the "white women's march". Tia Oros Peters, executive director of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, insisted on a boycott and wrote that "there is more to it than a sea of ​​smiling pink hats with globs on their backs for an annual walk through the old city while silencing marginalizing and ignoring real issues of justice and continuous colonization. "

The replacement march was launched by Kathy Srabian, a retired paranormally gifted who said she usually shuns the limelight. ("My title is" Who, I've never heard of her, "she joked in an interview.) Srabian said she decided to play on a Costco parking lot in a spur of the moment, while she was discussing the situation with another woman. the phone discusses.

"What's important is that we hold the space," she said. "We are holding a third annual women's tour, so there can be a fourth annual women's trek."

Srabian, who is white, said she is concerned that the issue of fundamental women's rights is being lost throughout the diversity debate. She pointed to the policy of the Trump government to divorce families at the border and said that it reminded her of the women she knew and who had been torn from their children during the Holocaust.

"We're going that way," she said. "They separate families at the border, that's what's going on, and we're talking about what color hat to wear? Give me a break. & # 39;

Wylie, speaking for the original Eureka march organizers, said that the Srabian event had completely missed the point. She said that it was not enough to simply invite different groups to attend the event; they must also be involved in the planning.

The original organizers stay away Saturday and work on plans to organize their own more inclusive event in March, according to Wylie.

"Everyone has the right to go out and march," she said. "It does not mean that the original organizers of the march should support them."

The headlines around the various power struggles of Women & # 39; s March seem to suggest that the movement is destined to become a footnote in history. Yet the past shows that these battles for control are not new – or necessarily fatal – obstacles to the struggle for women's rights.

In the late 19th century suffragettes held heated debates about whether or not to support the right of black Americans to vote. In the 1970s the women's movement broke out about embracing free love and pornography. It was not until 2012 that a conference on how the women's movement would function in a digital age was widely mocked because it ignored the needs of women of color.

And disagreement is not even new for the Women & # 39; s March. After the first event, the name "Womxn March" was adopted in a number of local chapters to reflect the concerns of trans women. Last year, the debate raged about the question of March On, a non-profit organization founded by former co-founder of Women & # 39; s March Inc. Vanessa Wruble, tried to steal the organization's thunderstorm.

Despite the differences of opinion, in 2018 more than one million people came to the second birthday nationally.

Wruble, reflecting the unrest, suggested that the divisions could actually help the movement by offering women more ways to join.

"People thought it was one group that did everything [in 2017] while in fact they were 600 marches, led by 600 plus women working together in concert, but who had never had contact and did not know each other, "she said.

"I think that's important for people to understand, so if they do not identify with the principles of one group, it has no effect on the overall movement."

Jackie Kucinich provided reporting