Saturday, January 21, 2017

Underestimated March Crowd Leaves Wrong Impression

A few hundred people? My fat ass! 
My buddy Thomas Ryder made the following observation over on my Facebook Timeline. It calls the people who report events locally (television and the newspaper) to properly estimate crowds (which isn't that hard to do).

The estimates that were made today by news media were so grossly under the actual figure that they were laughable and they distorted the stories. Hell, ask a cop. These guys do these events all the time and they have a great idea of how many people attend. I've been estimating crowds since I was a kid writing sports and I have a pretty good feel for it, but I asked the police anyway.

The daily newspaper didn't even attempt an estimate, but to say, as one TV station did that there were "hundreds" in attendance ignores the fact that there were 45 "hundreds" not four or two hundred.

Here's Thomas remarks, which are spot-on:

"I believe in getting facts right. Tonight, I'm a bit disappointed in our local media for grossly under-reporting the attendance at today's march in Roanoke. I was in a prime position to view the entire crowd before we went out on the march. I was able to actually count the number of people sitting in section below where I was standing. I came up with just under 500 in that section. My section was packed more than one other section and less than the four others.

"The two sections closest to stage right were absolutely brimming with humans, almost double the 500 in my section. I gridded off in my mind the grassy areas behind me to create 3-4 additional 500 person units. So here's what I saw in my grids: 800 +750+600+500+400 (main level)+ 500+500+500 (grassy hill area behind the main sections) = 4,550 (5,000 if you estimated a higher number on the hill than three grids.). 

"My estimate is also backed by Dan Smith, who made a similar guess and had it backed up by local police officers on the scene. Now why am I going into what some might view as inconsequential trivia? I'll tell you. WSLS TV reported that "hundreds" of people attended. WDBJ-TV reported that up to 2,500 people attended. 

"This is important because this march, this protest, wasn't just a few hundred malcontents strutting around with signs; rather, it was a purposeful gathering of respectfully out-raged citizens who feel marginalized by an immoral, illegitimate federal government. This march was merely a beginning, and I call on the local media to understand its significance and get the facts right."

Big, Festive Crowd for Roanoke Women's March

The crowd filled the Elmwood Park Amphitheater for the Women's March.
The crowd was estimated at 4,500.
Almost nobody expected the big, raucous, enthusiastic crowd that poured into Elmwood Park Amphitheater and down Jefferson Street to the center of Roanoke today. It was the Women's March, a supplement to the huge march for women's rights that was held simultaneously in D.C., a day after the inauguration of Donald Trump, the man these women were protesting.

A crowd of 700 to 1,000 was anticipated, according to organizers, but Roanoke police estimated the crowd that showed at 4,500. That could have been significantly higher, but the core of this protest group was in D.C.

They even came in wheelchairs.
Hundreds of colorful--and that includes the language--dotted the landscape where women--and men--and children intermingled like it was a big block party (without refreshments).

A few dignitaries spoke, but this rally was about the people holding signs, chanting, and celebrating their unity in opposition to a new administration they see as a threat to human rights which have been hard-won over the past few decades.

I saw no pro-Trump signs, no Republican elected officials and even Roanoke's City Council members appeared to be absent. The only elected officials I saw were Del. Sam Rasoul, a strong and consistent supporter of women, and Sen. John Edwards.  

Police said there was no extra security for the rally ("Why would we need it," one asked, as if the answer was obvious), and that only "the regular shift is here." I heard no arguments, no discord of any kind. The crowd was jovial and generally in agreement.

Frankly, it was a lot of fun and I met some good people, reacquainted with a few, and saw some good friends. I also got a number of warm hugs, which were quite welcome. Good event. Let's do another tomorrow.

This America belongs to these courageous women.
My friend, Roland Lazenby, and his family in force.
Here's one unmistakable message.
On the way to the march.
Registration forms ran out at 1,000.
Lots of young women in the crowd, an encouraging sign.
Peace, brothers and sisters.

No, not the tax service the real Lady Liberty.
Drummers were not in short supply.
Marchers pour over Longwood hill.
Lined up and ready to march.
Making signs up to the last minute.
Del. Sam Rasoul kissing babies, supporting women.
March leader Catherine Stromberg and Carolyn.
Children plotting their own march.
The welcome mat was out for everybody.
My pal Rebecca Frederickson as a WWII Rosie the Riveter.
I am woman ...
TV news was there and this wasn't fake news.
Author Beth Macy was colorful in the crowd.
Brenda Hale gave a bulldog of a speech about equality.
The political group gathered, misspelling Goodlatte.
My old pal Michelle Bennett, Roanoke's funniest woman (center).
The crowd (with ice skaters center left) at the women's march.
Obligatory redhead pix (I love redheads).
And the march is on. This was the front.
Marchers were required to stick to the sidewalk, not disrupting traffic.
Some marchers were more stylish than others.
Marching down Jefferson Street (where it meets Church Ave.)

Women's March Roanoke: Signs of the Times

Oh, my, are we playing with the language here?
The overflow crowd at the Elmwood Park amphitheater today for the Roanoke Women's March came fully equipped with signs, hundreds of them, ranging from the heavily political and the simple statement to the truly funny (like the one above).

Here are some of the signs.