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NY Women’s March split in 2 due to controversy (here are Alliance pics)

Held the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the 2017 Women’s March on Washington (and its sister marches that happened in NYC, Chicago, and throughout the country) were among the largest mass protests in American history. The March returned in 2018 with huge turnouts in NYC, Chicago, and elsewhere.

For its third year, though, NYC wound up with two separate Women’s March events on Saturday (1/19), and noticeably lower attendance at each. The Women’s March Alliance, a local group helmed by Katherine Siemionko (who organized the previous two NYC marches), held a march that assembled on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and headed south towards 44th St. Our pictures, in the gallery above, are from that event.

Happening concurrently at Foley Square in Manhattan was the Women’s Unity Rally, thrown by the now very controversial national Women’s March organization behind the original Washington DC event, and its local chapter, Women’s March NYC. Controversy over the national organization has stemmed largely from co-president Tamika Mallory, who has been embroiled in accusations of anti-semitism, and co-chair Linda Sarsour. The New York Times reports:

New York’s Jewish leaders, in particular, are conflicted because of the Women’s March NYC’s connections to the organization’s leaders in Washington. Ms. Sarsour’s resolute position defending the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestine has proved problematic for some.

But her co-leader, Tamika Mallory, helped push the divide as a result of her public support of Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam, who has called Jews “termites.” Ms. Mallory has condemned bigotry and anti-Semitism but has not condemned Mr. Farrakhan personally.

The New York Times further explains the timeline leading to two separate events if you want to know more.

The Foley Square Rally on Saturday (that we weren’t at) was met with protesters accusing the marchers of supporting anti-semitism, and one protestor — a notorious Trump supporting “poltiical activist” who is often in the news — took control of the microphone to call the event “the real Nazi march.” CBS News reports:

The woman, identified by supporters as 25-year-old political activist Laura Loomer, interrupted Women’s March NYC director Agunda Okeyo as she was making opening remarks at the rally near a cluster of courthouses in lower Manhattan.

“The women’s march does not represent Jewish people. The women’s march is the real Nazi march,” Loomer said. She continued ranting as security ushered her from the stage, screaming: “What about the Jews?”

Okeyo, who rejects that the movement is anti-Semitic, responded to the interruption by welcoming Jews and reminding the crowd about the purpose of the rally. Her group is a chapter of Women’s March Inc., which helped organize the first Women’s March in 2017 in Washington, D.C., the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

“This is not a negative day,” Okeyo said. “You’re not coming with that. We’re not doing that today. What we’re doing today is we’re going to uplift each other and we’re going to make sure we stay positive.”

The only counter-protestor I saw at the Women’s March Alliance march was someone holding a flag supporting Trump; he was drowned out by marchers holding signs condemning Trump, his cabinet, and the ongoing government shutdown. Some signs referenced music: “thank u next” was a popular slogan, as were references to Cardi B, and I saw at least one sign reading “#MuteRKelly.” Check out pictures of all that and more in the gallery above.

NY Congresswoman (and unlikely viral dance sensation) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made appearances at both NYC events on Saturday, starting off by speaking ahead of the Upper West Side march, and later speaking at the Foley Square rally. The Hill asked her how she’d respond to those concerned about the anti-semitism allegations in the national organization:

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