April 15, 2009

How Many of Us Were There?

Justin Katz

I'm hearing various media-approved estimates for the crowd at today's tea party, and they seem to hover just north of 2,000 people. Not being sure what the methodology might have been — and suspecting it had a bit of that old give a little credit here, take a little adjustment there — I thought I'd have a go at coming up with something with at least some attempt to be accurate.

So, I took two photos that I took in succession from up high on the steps (here and here) and joined them at a roughly central depth (overlapping the green signs to the left of the second picture), as follows:

As you can see with the buildings and the trees, the different perspectives from which I took the pictures causes some doubling, but the span of the crowd that I'm looking at is relatively narrow in height, and it's also central in the photo. In other words, what I gained slightly above the mid-point was reasonably comparable to what I lost beneath it.

I drew a 1x1 square (the number is arbitrary) and moved it around the field to estimate the average number of people within it at 7. I then drew a box around the crowd (rotated so as not to have empty space in the corners) and by calculating the box's size, figured there to be 2,597 people in that main cobbled area. I then added a conservative estimate of 50 more people on the walkways and down by the road, bringing the subtotal to 2,647.

Taking this picture of the steps from about the same time, I repeated the method for the lower and upper tiers, the former showing 245 people and the latter showing 287.

Granted the method is crude, but I'm reasonably sure that my fudges around the edges cancel out, which makes the total attendance at the time of this picture (roughly quarter to five) 3,179. Given that people were coming and going over the course of the three-hour event, the total attendance was probably in the 3,500–4,000 range.

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Great job using that new-fangled technology there. Next time, we should get one of those park service helicopters. j/k Anyway, I've checked a few of the local news websites, and there seems to be quite the disparity in estimating the count.

Projo blog says "hundreds, and "around a 1000", WPRI says "thousands", WJAR says "more than 1000." I'll presume RI Future will say "a few" or "several." LOL

I saw Rappleye's report on the Ch. 10 website. He said one thing I agree with completely:

"For a first outing here, organizers are judging this to be a success." You bet it was!

Posted by: Will at April 15, 2009 10:37 PM

This video posted by the ProJo described it as "Over 2,500 tax protesters attend a Tax Day Tea Party held at the steps of the Rhode Island State House"

I agree with Justin's assesment of the front crowd but I thought those behind the speaker was much more than that. Either way, it was great and a statement that shouldn't be ignored. Thanks for everyone who helped and attended.

Posted by: Bill Felkner at April 15, 2009 11:26 PM

The Federal Government spends too much money! lets cut spending. did anyone suggest what we could cut?

Posted by: phil wexler at April 15, 2009 11:57 PM

Will, that's a great idea, a helicopter!!

Now, which Lt. Gov. do we know that might be able to get us a helicopter...mmmmmm......let me see...

Justin, I think your estimates are rather correct.

Even Projo, TV10 and 12 pretty much reported numbers over 2000 with a possible swelling to 3000.

I'd easily go with the 2500 figure.

yes, I was there.

Posted by: Roland at April 16, 2009 12:35 AM

"Now, which Lt. Gov. do we know that might be able to get us a helicopter...mmmmmm......let me see..."

Great minds, think alike. I was thinking of her, too!

PS I watched Ch. 12's report tonight at 11pm. They reported it at "3,000 strong." Certainly, between those who came and went during the 3 hour period, I'm sure we exceeded that.

Posted by: Will at April 16, 2009 12:39 AM

If you need a helicopter next time just ask Janet Napolitano if you can hitch a ride on hers since she is monitoring what us radicalized right wingers (patriotic proud law abiding Americans) are doing. lol
Much congratulations guys and gals on a terrific event. So refreshing to see love of country on display from coast to coast.

Posted by: Tim at April 16, 2009 5:58 AM

When we have rallies, we designate 15-20 to roam the crowd and get people to sign in. Thus, we can follow-up with people and we have an accurate count of the crowd as opposed to using microscope speculation on several photos. Did you all use sign-in sheets? If so, how many sign-ed in?

Posted by: Matt Jerzyk at April 16, 2009 8:37 AM

Hey Jerzyk, you really are pushing this body count thing. Worried? trying to demorilize? Don't waste your breath. This thing has legs.

More and more people are showing up at OCG and RISC events. Regular people. Democrats, Republicans and oh so many Independants. People who pay taxes and get nothing in return. People who have to send their kids to private school to get a decent education. They are tired of your tax and spend progressive agenda. Welcome to the RI revolution. It will be televised.

Posted by: Red at April 16, 2009 9:31 AM

It was quite heartening for this left winger to see demonstrations against a policy coming from the right. It presented proof positive that things are not going so well for the reichists, er rightists. Until now political events rolled along in their favor, and protests came from the left. I sincerely hope that we see more monochrome marches in the future, an assurance that politics is moving ever so slowly, and I hope, relentlessly towards a socially conscious agenda. Keep shouting in a wind tunnel. It’s music to my ears. Speaking of music, unlike the May 2008 demonstration from the left, no Afro-Latin beat to be heard, no colorful mix, no rainbows from the monochromistas.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at April 16, 2009 12:28 PM

I am surprised that there wasn't a better effort to acquire the email address of everyone that showed up. I was there with my wife and 25yr.old daughter(1st Rally for all or us) I was fairly impressed with the speakers,except those that were self serving.However when we left it was like what's next?? The best info.we received was that the young republicans meet at ReRa once a month

Posted by: Kevin Kelly at April 16, 2009 4:07 PM

I am glad the leftists are making fun of the Tea Party. It shows me that they are scared, and they should be. I hope they keep it up! Acting like bratty 3 year olds who do not get their way is entertaining!!

Will yesterday's demonstration start a "revolution"? Maybe. Maybe not. But it does have the left nervous, even though they deny it. And unlike a protest by the leftists, there were no arrests, litter or fights. It was a great crowd...full of AMERICANS who are fed up. It was a great time!! Thanks!!! Looking forward to the next one!

Posted by: Donna C at April 16, 2009 5:01 PM


This was a first time type of "protest" of anything for virtually everyone at the Tea Party, the organizers included, so any miscues which may have occurred are to be expected. That being said, everything that could have gone well, did go well, but we can always do better.

I know there are many things that we will all learn from this going forward, one of which is acquiring and using information from participants to use at a later time. There were a number of organizations there getting e-mails and other things, but it was a little willy-nilly and hodge-podge, to use some funny words.

PS For the record, the RI Young Republicans meet every month at McFadden's, not RIRAs. However, since we didn't have a formal meeting of the YRs at McFadden's scheduled this month, it was decided to have an informal get together at RIRA's afterward ... which turned out to be successful, too.

Posted by: Will at April 16, 2009 5:40 PM
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