The march that never was?

I don’t watch TV much, but I track the big 3 news channels via website. Is it just me, or did half-a-million people march on Washington yesterday and nobody noticed?

Well, except for Fox, which has a piece on the ANTI-rally, but not on the main rally itself.

I’m beyond disgusted now, and just kind of generally weepy.


Tens of thousands of people packed downtown Washington yesterday and marched past the White House in the largest show of antiwar sentiment in the nation’s capital since the conflict in Iraq began.

The demonstration drew grandmothers in wheelchairs and babies in strollers, military veterans in fatigues and protest veterans in tie-dye. It was the first time in a decade that protest groups had a permit to march in front of the executive mansion, and, even though President Bush was not there, the setting seemed to electrify the crowd.

Signs, T-shirts, slogans and speeches outlined the cost of the Iraq conflict in human as well as economic terms. They memorialized dead U.S. troops and Iraqis, and contrasted the price of war with the price of recovery for areas battered by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Riffs on Vietnam-era protests were plentiful, with messages declaring, “Make Levees, Not War,” “I never thought I’d miss Nixon” and “Iraq is Arabic for Vietnam.” Many in the crowd had protested in the 1960s; others weren’t even born during those tumultuous years.

Protest organizers estimated that 300,000 people participated, triple their original target. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who walked the march route, said the protesters achieved the goal of 100,000 and probably exceeded it. Asked whether at least 150,000 showed up, the chief said, "That’s as good a guess as any.

“It’s their protest, not mine. It was peaceful – that’s all I care about,” Ramsey said.

More than 200 counter-demonstrators set up outside the FBI building on Pennsylvania Avenue, and some back-and-forth yelling occurred as the antiwar marchers moved past. “Shame on you! Shame on you!” one counter-protester shouted at the antiwar group. Several dozen officers stood between the two groups, and no trouble erupted, police said.

Some organizations supporting the war in Iraq plan to demonstrate today on the Mall.

Antiwar groups staged smaller rallies yesterday in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, London, Rome and other cities. In Washington, the events were sponsored by groups including the ANSWER Coalition and United for Peace and Justice and focused on a succinct theme: “End the War in Iraq and Bring the Troops Home Now.”

Roughly 147,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq. Since the war began in March 2003, 1,911 U.S. members of the military have been killed and 14,641 have been wounded.

A friend of mine asked me to go but I’m so jaded with groups like ANSWER I begged off. So often these rallies become parodies of all the special interests that have any beef at all with the administration. This one does sound like it came off a bit better and more focused than most so far. I’ll be interested to hear how many folks came to the rally “in support” of the war today. That’ll really be a march that never happened. Maybe, what, 500 folks? 1000 perhaps? Anyone taking bets?

CNN put the total number of protestors around 100,000.

No, CNN quoted someone as saying that they thought the march had reached it’s goal of 100,000. CNN itself, once the march was on, estimated it at 600k. The police estimated 3-400k.

I know the real number lies somewhere else, but all reports are that 100k isn’t close.


Funny, in the Washington Post story from today which would be the news organization in the best position to know what’s going on, the march organizers claimed 300k and the police commissioner said it was over 100k (the original goal) and that 150k wouldn’t be a bad guess. This is a significant number of people but I haven’t heard anyone say it was anything near half a million. If you’re wondering where to find the relevant part of this article just look up the thread a couple posts.

It could have been 3 million people, and they would still say “It looks like they had slightly over the 100,000 expected”.

At any rate, I saw a bit of the pro-war demonstration. I’d guess, generously, there were maybe 100-200 people gathered around the podium and clapping for the speeches. Could be other stuff was going on somewhere else. The one speaker I caught was a young Iraq vet who got in some shots at the “radicals” protesting the previous day and said that “Cindy doesn’t speak for us” which, I’d think, would go without saying. But the only way he framed his support for the Iraq war was saying, “We didn’t think about Bush or Haliburton when we were over there. Just two things we were thinking about: the guy on my left and the guy on my right. That’s what we were fighting for.”

A noble sentiment but I doubt one many of the anti-war protesters would find fault with. Bush’s judgement, and lack of honesty, getting us into this mess and, to a lesser extent, Halliburton’s profiteering were what they’ve got an issue with. If you didn’t think about it, what’s your beef man?

Well, it was a pretty weak display. Evidently it was organized by Free Republic. They seem to make better keyboard warriors than rally organizers.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Support for U.S. troops fighting abroad mixed with anger toward anti-war demonstrators at home as hundreds of people, far fewer than organizers had expected, rallied Sunday on the National Mall just a day after tens of thousands protested against the war in Iraq.

“No matter what your ideals are, our sons and daughters are fighting for our freedom,” said Marilyn Faatz, who drove from New Jersey to attend the rally. “We are making a mockery out of this. And we need to stand united, but we are not.”

About 400 people gathered near a stage on an eastern segment of the mall, a large patchwork American flag serving as a backdrop. Amid banners and signs proclaiming support for U.S. troops, several speakers hailed the effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan and denounced those who protest it.

Many demonstrators focused their ire at Cindy Sheehan, the California woman whose protest near President Bush’s Texas home last summer galvanized the anti-war movement.

Sheehan was among the speakers at Saturday’s rally near the Washington Monument on the western part of the mall, an event that attracted an estimated 100,000 people.

War protests, by the numbers

Crowd counting isn’t an exact science. And even at its best, it’s not much of a proxy for a well-conducted public opinion poll. But still, isn’t it at least a little interesting to compare the numbers generated by the big antiwar protest in Washington Saturday with the two pro-war rallies that came before and after it?

As Jeff Horwitz writes in Salon, the organizers of Saturday’s protest “claimed as many as 250,000 demonstrators attended; though D.C. police estimates were more conservative, none pegged the crowd at below 100,000.” USA Today said the protest drew “at least 100,000.” The Associated Press called it “an estimated 100,000 people.” And the Washington Post quoted D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey, who, when asked whether the protest drew at least 150,000 people, said, “That’s as good a guess as any.”

How does that stack up against the America Supports You Freedom Walk and country music concert the Pentagon sponsored on the fourth anniversary of 9/11 earlier this month? There’s no comparison, really. While one Pentagon official claimed that the pro-war event drew 17,000, newspaper accounts put the real number at somewhere between “several thousand” and “about 10,000” – and a good number of those were apparently government employees who had been urged by their supervisors to attend.

And what about this Sunday’s pro-war demonstration? Organizers of that event said they hoped to draw 10,000 people to Washington. How’d they do? The Associated Press says Sunday’s event drew “hundreds,” which was “far fewer than organizers had expected.” The conservative Washington Times puts a finer point on it, saying an “estimated 400 people” participated in the pro-war rally that was meant to “counter Saturday’s anti-war protests, which attracted as many as 100,000 people. according to police estimates.”