Government to Review Count of Gay Marchers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Federal officials, responding to angry complaints that they undercounted the crowd at last weekend’s gay rights march here, agreed Wednesday to review their estimate.
″We’ve agreed to take a look at the count and also to take a look at the methodology used at these times of large demonstrations,″ said Tom Collier, chief of staff for Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt.
The decision followed a meeting between Interior Department officials and leaders of the gay march. Also on hand was Bob Hattoy, associate director of White House personnel and an adviser to President Clinton on gay issues.
The Park Service estimated the number of marchers flooding the National Mall on Sunday at 300,000. Demonstration leaders put the count at 1.1 million and expressed disappointment at the government’s estimate.
Crowd estimates by demonstration leaders are usually higher than those of government officials. Park police say they base their counts on aerial photographs and official guidelines.
Billy Hileman, a co-chair of the march, said the Park Service’s method is flawed. He said the crowd may have been intentionally undercounted to dilute the impact of the march.
Collier said he decided to review the counting methods because of research presented by the march committee, particularly a comparison of the gay demonstration and a National Organization for Women rally last year.