Thursday, January 23, 2003

I was at the January 18th protests in D.C. It was an inspiring show both in terms of size and diversity. The march passed a Republican Party office where people on the balcony held a sign reading “Hippies Go Home.” But one of most obvious facts about the crowd was that few looked anything like “hippies.” Many appeared to be middle-class suburbanites. In fact there were even a few signs emphasizing this (“Another middle-class homeowner against the War”).

There has been much discussion about estimating the number of protestors. One thing is clear- the estimates of under 100,000 people that appeared in some media outlets are clearly low. There were several problems that made it difficult to estimate the numbers participating including:
- The cold weather not only discouraged people from attending but also meant at any one time there were many who had ducked into a nearby restaurant, museum or public building to temporarily warm up.
- Many arrived late. Some busses did not arrive until at least an hour after the rally started. Clogged metro lines also resulted in late arrivals.
- The march began before the rallies ended and before some late comers arrived at the rally.
- The front of the march had reached the end of the route and begun disbanding even before those at the rear had begun to march.

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