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Dismal turnout expected for this year's Women's March as group faces anti-Semitism scandal

After millions marched just two years ago

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The third annual Women's March on Washington is expected to have a dismal turnout this year, when just two years ago the event drew an estimated four to five million people nationwide.

Leaders of the movement were recently accused of anti-Semitism and some prominent people and organizations have stepped away from the event. Only 10,000 people are expected to attend the march in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, according to published reports.

Women's March organizers blamed the low turnout estimate on location changes made by the National Parks Service. The group originally planned to meet on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

“They wanted us to cancel the march altogether," organizers wrote in a statement. “We told them we were marching with or without their permission, and we secured a permit to march on Pennsylvania Avenue, past the Trump International Hotel."

The anti-Semitism controversy stems from Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory's refusal to condemn Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for his anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Farrakhan recently called Jews "termites."

Additionally, Vanessa Wruble, one of the group's original organizers, said she faced anti-Semitism treatment from Women's March co-presidents Carmen Perez and Mallory.

While appearing on ABC's "The View," Mallory said does not agree with "many" of Farrakhan's statements. But she stopped short of condemning him.

The controversies have fractured the movement and prompted a second, rival march, the ALL Women Rally. That event, announced Wednesday, is designed to welcome those who feel disenfranchised by the original march. It will take place in Pershing Park, across the street from the Women's March in Freedom Plaza, WUSA-TV reported.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), who attended the 2017 Women's March, distanced herself from the event on Friday by writing in a USA Today opinion piece: "I cannot associate with the national march's leaders and principles, which refuse to completely repudiate anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. I cannot walk shoulder to shoulder with leaders who lock arms with outspoken peddlers of hate."

Who pulled their sponsorship?

Previous sponsors of the Women's March, including the Democratic National Committee, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, and the Center for American Progress will not sponsor the march this year, The Hill reported.

"The DNC stands in solidarity with all those fighting for women's rights and holding the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers across the country accountable," Sabrina Singh, the deputy communications director for the DNC, said in a statement to The Hill. She did not specify why the group dropped its sponsorship.

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