Monday, January 23, 2017

How many tried to march in Chicago to show contempt for Donald Drumpf

I remember once talking with an Illinois State Police trooper (now retired) who explained the art of putting together an official crowd estimate at large-scale events.
Evidence was about of the women's rally

He told me the trick was to count out a group of 500 people, figure out how much space they occupy, then figure out by how many multiples the total event is larger than that group.

A QUICKIE MULTIPLICATION then gives you a crowd estimate that sounds like it’s official and scientific. But in a way makes about as much sense as the so-called rules of crowd estimates that always said a president would draw 100,000 people, an astronaut would get 300,000 and the Pope would draw 1 million people. While Republican political candidates (in Chicago, at least) would be lucky to draw 10 people.
Well-mannered crowd let contempt be known

The point is that these estimates ought not to be taken too seriously.

Which is what entranced me about the Chicago version of the women’s march that occurred Saturday. The crowd got so big that the event originally planned got overwhelmed.

Organizers who wanted to have a crowd march from Grant Park to the plaza outside the federal government buildings for Chicago (about a three-block walk) expected it would be about 50,000 people.

BUT IT SEEMS the crowd that actually showed up would have stretched so long that you would have had some marchers literally arrived at the destination and waiting for followers while others would have been waiting for their chance to start marching.
Jessica, my niece, makes her view known. Photographs of rally provided by Vicki Magginnis-Burnett

The crowd was too big. The event wound up becoming a mid-day rally Saturday in the park.

Which probably makes a certain level of sense. Personally, I’d think a chance for people to gather and listen to speakers would make more of a physical impression than people walking through the streets.
Taste of 'Hamilton' for those who can't get tickets

Which would have the potentially negative impact of irritating passing pedestrians and possibly making some of them into Trump backers. Or maybe just crochety old people upset that their business downtown was interfered with?

SO SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 150,000 and 250,000 people (two of whom were my sister-in-law Vicki and teenage niece Jessica) was enough to overwhelm Chicago, and make us the national exception. Other cities were capable of doing marches, particularly in the District of Columbia.

Where it seems the official amount is 470,000 people. Which march organizers are claiming is more people than showed up for the Inaugural ceremonies held Friday for the beginning of the Trump presidency. Which we’ll never know for sure because federal officials are refusing to provide a figure for the number of people who showed up to see Donald J. take the oath of office.

Which may be a responsible thing to do.

Thinking of this event brought to mind the most recent large-scale event – the World Series parade and rally following the Chicago Cubs’ victory in early November. Five-Million-People is the officially recognized stat for that event.

NOW I REALIZE the Cubs’ rally was a stationary event, rather than a moving march. Which means it would be natural for more people to be present for baseball rather than showing contempt for the man they will forevermore refer to as Donald Drumpf (allegedly, that was once the family name).

But do we really believe the Cubs gain greater significance because of the concocted figure? Which always struck me as being something concocted by insecure fans who want history to record their World Series-winning rally as being bigger than the one held for the Chicago White Sox (which allegedly drew 1.75 million people) back in 2005.
The new expert in the field of crowd estimates?

The point of crowd estimates is often to provide a “fact” meant to reinforce whatever stance was being asserted by a particular group. Personally, I only offer crowd estimates when I report a story if it is possible that I can do a count for myself.

At least then, a reader can merely question my cipherin’ abilities (remember the Jethro Bodine gazintas?). None of these figures ought to be taken any more seriously than that.


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