Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Protest Numbers Don't Add Up

From the SF Chronicle story linked above:

"I have never seen an identical estimate by authorities and protesters," said Neil Smelser, professor emeritus of
sociology at UC Berkeley. . .

As I indicated below (1/19), the discrepancy in the crowd count at Saturday's (1/18) peace march/rally was hardly surprising.
The SFPD originally put the tally at 55,000 while International A.N.S.W.E.R. maintains the event drew at least 200,000 folks. Each side, obviously, has an agenda and would like the numbers to support that agenda.

It was clear to anybody who was there (see Tom Shugart's comment here, for instance), however, that the police estimate was ridiculously low. In the words of Richard Becker, a member of ANSWER's national steering committee in San Francisco:

"I think it's ludicrous that this could have been a march of 50,000."

Especially since the SFPD's total did not include everybody but only those who had made it to Civic Center Plaza:

Police estimates of 55,000 demonstrators came from a counting of people in Civic Center Plaza and did not include
marchers who were backed up along Market Street, said Jim Deignan, San Francisco police spokesman.

So now that the SFPD has kindly accounted for the entire crowd, and not just those who had made it to the Civic Center, they
have amended their numbers upward to a total of at least 150,000. Sarah and myself, who were among those backed up along
Market Street for some time, figured jointly that there had to be at least 150,000 people marching (150,002 including ourselves) and are glad to see that the truth, at least this once, has emerged.

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