Figuring out how many people were at the Moral March today is relatively easy using some accepted methods of estimating crowd size. At a fairly densely populated event, each person takes up roughly 4.5 square feet. Since everyone was confined to a rectangular space defined by Fayetteville Street, it’s pretty easy to get the square footage of the event.

I don’t know exactly how wide Fayetteville Street is from building to building but I estimated 100 feet and that may be generous. From looking at photos of the crowd and reading peoples’ description (I wasn’t there) on Facebook and elsewhere, the crowd was relatively dense from the State Capitol to Martin Street, with a few meandering people beyond that point. That’s two solid blocks of marchers.

It’s 950 feet from the State Capitol to Martin Street. If my estimate of 100 feet wide is correct, that means that people at the event took up about 95,000 square feet. If each person took up 4.5 square feet, that means there were about 21,000 people in that space. Maybe there were another 2,000 people wandering around but not much more than that.

I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade. Twenty-thousand people is a very impressive turnout. If they all become foot soldiers, that’s a fierce army in any campaign, as long as there are strategists figuring out how to use them and generals giving them marching orders.

But I don’t think anybody benefits from exaggerating numbers with ridiculous estimates like 80,000 to 100,000. It belittles the impressive task of rallying over 20,000 people on a cold, damp day and gives the right reason to question the veracity of the organizers. That’s not helpful.

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