Share photos on twitter with TwitpicI'm thinking a lot about crowd numbers estimating today.  there's a wide range of counts for the march in Phoenix this past Saturday.  Most mainstream media just say "tens of thousands".  The cops refuse to say, but the AZ Republic says they overheard on police scanners officers saying 30,000. As usual, organizers and some partisans are talking way larger numbers than the police; some say 100K or even more (and I count myself as a partisan, I have a definite position and I don't claim to be "neutral" or "objective" - I am definitely anti-sb1070 and pro-migrant - i'm just not one of those partisans). 

I honestly really don't know.  I was there, but i was just one person, situated at one point on the march. Sometimes i stopped and shot video of people passing by, but unless you were there counting in one spot for the entire time, or in a helicopter, i don't know how you can have any degree of certainty about the numbers.  This is how marches and rallies always are, but this one was especially hard to judge because it was stretched out and a thin line over many many blocks. I do know that the end of the march only reached the Capitol building destination at least an hour after the post-march speeches and such had been going on. So that's a lot of people, but I just don't know how you could say for sure it was a certain number.

I think it does the movement involved with an event, and journalism itself, even "citizen journalism", a disservice to throw around big attendance numbers and act like you're sure of them, and not at least provide sources or corroborating claims or explain the methods you used to come up with your numbers - or who was doing the counting and how.  You blow your credibility and create more mistrust and conflict by making such unsupported and casual claims.  C'mon people, progressives are supposed to be on the side of science and truth - the other side is the one that employs fantasy and "makes their own reality".

Of course the other way to know someone might be fudging numbers is by looking at motivation. The organizers of the march were planning and hoping for the event to be even bigger than the huge march in Phoenix in April 2006, which drew, it is said, 100,000. So, to feel good about themselves they sort of need to tell themselves, and others,  that the turnout was indeed 100,000+  It's a dangerous thing to make these kinds of bets, and then to not be honest about the results is even worse.

My loose and half-joking policy is, I usually split the difference between the cops and the organizers, which would put us at 65,000 for this march.  This still *feels* to me like too much, to be honest, according to my personal experience looking at the people on the streets and at the start point and end point.  However, neither of these statements, an arbitrary act of arithmetic or a subjective observation from one isolated viewpoint, can be counted on to be accurate. I do not claim it as truth. I simply don't know.  All I know is that there were a LOT of people, and it was impressive, and I met many many people from all over the country who were there to support Arizonans in this struggle, and I did 10 little interviews that turned out quite nicely. I've been putting up some clips from those all week.

MSNBC Reported 100,000.

MSNBC Reported 100,000.!/video/video.php?v=1493049334441. Public March Predictions from organizers ahead of time were 50,000.

Here's what I wrote about the march counting.
Media and the Mathematics of Marching
Is Brown a negative number

On Saturday, May 29th, history was made and most people missed it. More than 100,000 marched five miles in sweltering heat, joined by co-founder of the United Farm Workers, Dolores Huerta, and the President of today’s labor movement Richard Trumka. Four undocumented college students announced from the state capitol that they would attempt to meet with Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio, the man who has made his name on hateful violations of migrant and human rights. In Arizona the tide is turning.

But for the media, it looked like any other day. The undercounting of participants as low as several thousand and the conflating of the number of march attendees with the almost exclusively white rally of no more than 5,000 in Tempe is not only inaccurate and irresponsible reporting. It is suspicious and even discriminatory.

In the 1960s Civil Rights movement, media exposure of local conditions in the South is what shifted the hearts and minds of a nation. Our country’s progress depends on our ability to shed light on hate where it rears its head in backwards policies and racist endeavors. The 100,000 plus who stepped out from the barrios to overcome their fears of recrimination joined by those who drove from as far away as Boston to march for human rights and denounce SB 1070 deserve proper recognition. When they outnumber any opposition by 20 times, media portrayals of converging sides in the name of balance actually tip the scales in hates favor. On Saturday, May 29th, 2010, people came together because of a recognition of our human dignity, our interconnection, and our love for humanity. It is time the media recognize their humble efforts properly.

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