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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Restoring Honor Rally Crowd Size

A lie told often enough becomes the truth. -Vladimir Lenin

The news reports for the past two days have been both positive and negative regarding the Restoring Honor Rally held at the Lincoln Memorial this past Saturday. Somehow the importance of the rally has been eclipsed by the media’s estimate of the crowd in attendance. This was the same controversy for last year’s Tea Party’s 9/12 rally. It all depends on who is doing the counting. The crowd estimates range from a low of 78,000 (CBS) to 500,000 (Beck’s own estimate).

As a professional land surveyor I know how to determine distances and calculate areas from aerial photographs. With this in mind I decided to take a crack at estimating the crowd size of the Restoring Honor Rally based on photos and remote sensing.

The photos I have seen on the Internet are not true rectified aerial photos, but oblique high angle shots that are not readily measurable. I used these photos for the purpose of estimating the extent and density of the crowd. By density I mean how closely packed the people were. From what I could observe the people were fairly tightly packed. I would estimate that each person was occupying about five square feet.

The next step was to determine the area occupied by the crowd. From the photos I have seen the crowd was packed fairly densely from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the steps of the WWII Memorial. The width of the crowd appeared to cover the area from the tree line at the north of the Mall to the tree line at the south side.

Now I took measurements using Google Earth and found that the distance from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the steps of the WWII Memorial and I came up with 2,600 feet. The north south dimension from tree line to tree line was 640 feet. This calculates to an area of 1,664,000 square feet.

The next step was to remove the area of the reflecting pool from my estimate, after all no one was standing in the water. The reflecting pool is 2,000 by 150 feet and yields an area of 300,000 square feet. Hence, the total area occupied by people is 1,664,000 less 300,000 or 1,364,000 square feet. Using a modest figure of one person for every 5 square feet I came up with a crowd estimate for the area described above of 272,800 or rounded to 270 thousand.

Using the same technique for the area from the WWII Memorial to the Washington Monument I came up with 506,000 square feet, which would add another 101,200 people rounded to 100,000. This brings the total crowd count, by my estimate, at 370,000. This is a pretty big crowd by anyone’s standard and a far cry from the CBS estimate at 76,000.

The only variable here is the square foot required for each person. I have researched several sources, including the University or Indiana, and have found estimates ranging as follows for the area, in square feet, required for people attending outdoor events: Tightly packed (4), moderately packed (7) and loosely packed (10). In looking at the photos and seeing most of the people standing almost elbow to elbow I chose to use 5 square feet. You can use the area I calculated and play with the numbers if you wish.

A few years ago Herbert A. Jacobs, 63, a longtime Wisconsin newspaperman who now lectures at the University of California set out to make a more scientific calculation when estimating crowd sizes. Jacobs did not like the way in which many of his colleagues reported on crowd sizes, especially those for political rallies. He believed estimates were biased to the political agenda of the reporter. He was probably correct.

Jones gathered aerial photos of crowds whenever he could get them. He sectioned the photos into 1 inch squares and counted the people in each square. Using this method he came up with his unique formula. By doing a little arithmetic, Jacobs arrived at what he calls the "Jacobs Crowd Formula." His formula required to pace off the length and breadth of any crowd and add the two figures together. He then multiplied that figure by seven for a slack crowd, by ten for a dense one.

I find a few flaws in Jacobs’ method. The first being I don’t know what he means by pace. I assume he is referring to a thirty-inch stride to determine the distance in feet. If this is so, using his formula, I would calculate a crowd of 2,600+640 for 3,240 x 7 yielding a crowd size of 22,680. This makes no sense to me. Also using his formula does not take into account the area of the reflecting pool, which has to be taken out of the estimate.

The bottom line here is that two things were very evident in the media reports beside the varying crowd estimates. One is the constant mention of the term “predominately white” and the other being a subtle reference to Beck’s arrogance at using the same date and location as Martin Luther King for his rally.

The reference to the color of the crowd is just another example of the race baiting we are constantly barraged with by the Left and the media. This is tearing the country apart and it is promulgated by the social progressive Left so they can maintain control of the message. Does anyone mention that a crowd at a Bon Jovi concert is predominately white? Are not white people given the benefit of the doubt that they are not there for racist reasons and that they are more concerned with the message than the appearance of the attendees?

Martin Luther King does not own the Lincoln Memorial or August 28th just as Ronald Reagan does not own the Brandenburg Gate. By the way, the crowd at Obama’s Brandenburg Gate speech was predominately white. As for King’s politics if you look at his speeches and according to his niece, Alveda King, he was more concerned with the spiritual aspects of the civil rights movement and was more of a conservative than a social progressive. It is the parasites and pretenders to King’s legacy that have torn the King family apart. These pretenders to the King crown like Jackson and Sharpton, who don’t even speak to each other, have tried to claim they are the real heirs to the King legacy. (By the way where is Jackson?)

This is the same as the politicians and elites who claim the John F. Kennedy legacy. Not a one of them, even his brother Ted, was even close to the political philosophy of John Kennedy. He was a tax cutter, a hawk, fiercely anti communist and did not give a hoot about civil rights when he was in office.

While there are things about Glenn Beck that I am not a fan of I cannot find fault with his motives or his factual reporting of our history. When people like Joe Klein, of Time magazine, go on TV and compare Beck and his followers to those persecuted German-Americans during the First World War and those who interned Japanese-Americans during WWII without mention of the architects of those policies; Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt heroes of the Left, I want to throw something at the TV set.

The more I see and hear of these social progressive statist and their useful idiots in the media the more I am drawn to the Tea Party. As to the Rally I am reminded of the dialogue between Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson when Thoreau was arrested for civil disobedience in protest to the Mexican-American War. When Emerson came to visit Thoreau in his jail cell he asked him why he was here. Thoreau’s answer was simple yet eloquent when he responded to Emerson, “Why aren’t you here?”

My message to the Conservatives and Libertarians is simple. Stop looking for minor disagreements among yourselves. Stop nit picking the message and looking for minor flaws in your fellows who are of the same basic mind. Focus on the bigger picture. We have some major problems in the country and we need a strong united conservative voice. Massive spending, an overblown government, disrespect for Constitutional government and a threat for radical Islam are our real enemies, not each other. Take a leaf from the book of our founding fathers and work together to defeat the soft tyranny of the statists. We can accomplish this if we don’t worry over who gets the credit.

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