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How Many People Protested The WEF In New York?

Estimating crowds is an inexact science, but the assessments of various media agencies have been positively baffling. Report from… NYC Indymedia

How Many People Protested The WEF In New York?

Article by An NYC IMC person
Sunday 03 Feb 2002

CNN reported 2000, with 2 arrests. We thought that could be explained by the fact that the the three producers who contributed to the article never left the International ANSWER rally (maybe they were in Atlanta all day) and did not revise the numbers any time after noon. Their report now says three dozen arrested, but that may be the result of a quick update from the NYPD.

New York 1, AOLTimeWarner's 24 hour New York City news station, has an article saying, "Hundreds Protest, Several Arrested During World Economic Forum's Third Day". I swear I saw Melissa Russo at the AWIP rally (though she did not stray from her perch at the police line), so there is no rational explanation for that statement.

Reuters suggested a total of 8000 in an article filed at 1:22am on Sunday. That has some basis in fact, and approaches the low end of the range we would offer if these things were not measured in single numbers.

BBC, taking the safe route, said "thousands."

The New York City IMC arrived at its estimate, recently lowered to 15,000 from an earlier 20,000, by talking to dozens of people who were at many points in the crowd throughout the day, most of whom have been in large crowds.

Early on, around 10:30, the International ANSWER rally was assessed at around 1600 and growing. We estimate that it reached 2000. (Reuters said 3000. BBC again said several thousand.)

The Reclaim The Streets group, which gathered at Columbus Circle, was approximately 1000 before it snaked through the park to join the AWIP rally. Within that group were approximately 200 people specifically from the Anti-Capitalist Convergence.

The Another World Is Possible group, which rallied at the southeast corner of the park before welcoming the RTS group and marching toward the Waldorf-Astoria, included over 10,000 people.

The combination of those figures equals 13,000. How did we get to 15? We did not include the Falun Gong rally, which had somewhere between 1000 and 2000 people, for reasons that could not be expalined within this article.

When RTS and AWIP combined, the group was one traffic lane wide, stretching for around three quarters of a mile. One report said it went from 5th Avenue and 53rd to Park Avenue near 44th. Later, when people were packed in more tightly and filled half the width of Park Avenue, from the buildings through four lanes to the median, they stretched from 48th Street down Park to 46th, then over to 2nd Avenue, according to a different report. (This was when the police had cut off the northern section of the march at 47th Street.)

How many people is that? A lot, for sure. More than what the media sources cited above said. It could be our sum of 13,000. Protest organizers said 25,000. And WBAI, our local and wonderfully revived Pacifica outlet, reported 20,000 at around 2:00. That was where we got our initial report. After compiling the numbers from IMC participants, we factored in those larger numbers, which some people we spoke with had also suggested, and revised our estimate upward slightly to 15,000. So that's our guess. What's yours?

[Author's note: When it says we in this article, it means the people in the room at the time. A large group, sure, but not a formal one. This was written by one of those people, but we all agreed it was necessary to be up front about our thinking and to question the thinking of others.]


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