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College Democrats at IU not attending Women’s March due to controversy

The College Democrats at IU will not attend Saturday's Women’s March in Indianapolis in what they said is a break in the movement's mission. 

The decision comes in light of recent controversies about association between the founders of the national Women’s March organization and Louis Farrakhan, the head of Nation of Islam, the College Democrats at IU said in a statement Friday. Nation of Islam has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Farrakhan is known for anti-Semitic statements. 

“While the Women’s March is a movement pushing back against President Trump and his administration’s words and actions towards the disenfranchised — namely women — the mission of the movement in no way excuses it from being held to an inclusive set of values,” IU College Democrats’ executive board said in a statement.

In February 2018, Women’s March co-president Tamika Mallory attended a Nation of Islam event where Farrakhan spoke. The event was for Nation of Islam’s Saviours' Day, which Mallory has regularly attended throughout her life, she said in a March 2018 op-ed. 

In May 2017, she posted a picture of herself with Farrakhan on Instagram calling him the “G.O.A.T,” greatest of all time, in her caption and wishing him a happy birthday.

“I didn’t call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric,” Mallory said on "The View" last Monday. “I called him the greatest of all time because of what he’s done in black communities.”

The president of College Democrats at IU, junior Jack Parke, said the executive board first heard about these statements earlier this week. The group had previously planned on driving to Indianapolis to attend the march. They discussed it at a Wednesday night meeting and decided they no longer felt comfortable supporting the Women’s March organization, he said.

“Anti-Semitism is something we as an organization take very seriously,” Parke said. “We found the comments completely reprehensible. It was very important to us that they disavow those comments and they did not do so.”

On "The View," Mallory said she disagreed with many of Farrakhan’s statements, but would not specifically say she condemns them as "The View" co-host Meghan McCain repeatedly asked her to do.

“I think it is very clear over the 20 years of my own personal activism, my own personal track record, who I am," Mallory said. "And I should never be judged through the lens of a man.” 

Sophomore and vice president of College Democrats at IU James Bassett responded to Mallory's comments. 

“When you’re the leader of such a major national movement, you have to face judgment in the eyes of the public, and you have to really make sure you’re practicing what you’re preaching,”  Bassett said. 

The Democratic National Committee was removed from the Women’s March sponsorship webpage earlier this week, CNN reported Tuesday. The DNC has not commented on this apparent change.

There are two separate marches taking place Saturday in New York City, one sponsored by the national Women’s March Inc. organization and the other by a group called the Women’s March Alliance, the New York Times reported Friday. The Women’s March Alliance is stressing their denunciation of anti-Semitism, according to the New York Times report.

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