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Religious leaders say Washington Post undercounted rally

Several local religious leaders are furious with the Washington Post for reporting that about 150 people attended their rally on Sunday demanding a public vote on whether same-sex marriage should be legalized. The crowd estimate came from a Washington Post reporter who attended the rally.

One of the rally organizers, Bishop Harry Jackson, disputed the crowd estimate at Monday's hearing before the Board of Elections and Ethics on whether the referendum should go forward. Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, told the board members that "despite what the Washington Post reported," about 2,000 people attended the rally on Freedom Plaza.

Earlier today, the Missionary Baptist Ministers Conference of D.C. and Vicinity also issued a news release questioning the newspaper's crowd estimate.

"This was no small group, as reported by (Washington Post reporter) Tim Craig, given the fact I, alone, brought three bus loads of over 150 people to the rally, and several hundred more were also in attendance; including several other bus loads of people," said Reverend Patrick J. Walker, Chairman of the Task Force Against Same Sex Marriage of The Missionary Baptist Ministers‟ Conference of DC and Vicinity.

"I do not know where Mr. Tim Craig obtained his attendance figures. Perhaps this article was simply a bit biased in reporting on this significant showing."

While the rally was taking place, a staffer for Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) was shooting pictures of the crowd from the upper floors of the John A. Wilson Building, located across the street from Freedom Plaza. The photo below was taken at 3:12 p.m., shortly after the first speakers took the stage.


One possible explanation for the varying crowd estimates is that some of those bused to the event appeared to periodically leave Freedom Plaza to wander through downtown instead of participating in the rally from start to finish.

-- Tim Craig

By Tim Craig  |  October 28, 2009; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig , same-sex marriage  
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It is clear from this photo that the reporter for the washington post was not in the right position when he counted the rally participants. It probably was intentional since it was part of his story (small crowd). Only in america can the media create something that is not when they want to.

Posted by: bill121 | October 28, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

These religious nuts can't even count. From this picture and given the size of Freedom Plaza, if 2000, or hell, even 1000 people can out to protest, that area would have been a standstill and that place packed. This obviously isn't the case. These guys need to bus their tails back to beltsville and leave us to live in our City. Be a good neighbor, mind your own darn business.

Posted by: ConcernedInvestor | October 28, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I have to side with Tim on this one. Has anyone else out there tried to get a crowd count before? It is damn near impossible. Espically when the crowd doesn't stay in one place, which is the nature of crowds. And there is not 2,000 people in that picture. Not even close.

Posted by: tatertots | October 28, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna agree with Tim on this one. I've played a many shows and can gauge a crowd size pretty well. From the picture, I'd estimate no more than 200 people and that's being generous.

Posted by: Deflowering | October 28, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

There were more people in that area waiting on Port-a-Potties at the March for Equality than are shown in that picture !

Posted by: loladarling | October 28, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Those three busloads of 150 people must've headed off for the bars, or maybe the Navy Yard, because there aren't 200 people in that photo.

Posted by: KidTJ | October 28, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Here's another possibile explanation very the varying crowd estimates: Harry Jackson is a liar.

Here's my question: What hasn't this guy lied about when it comes to marriage equality? Residence? Crowd Estimates?...

Posted by: billjones21 | October 28, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Are there any photos from 4:12pm at the height of the crowd? The point of the objection is simply Mr. Craig reported an inaccurate number..."small" is subjective (small in comparison to what), "about 150" appears to be a statment of fact. Regardless, of what anyone says I know what number of people I brought to the rally...and none of them came from Beltsville. The only number that really counts is how many will be able to vote on this far that is only 13!

Posted by: pastorpwalker | October 28, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps this photo was taken at 2:00pm when crowds first started arriving for a 3:00pm rally. The point is, this was not a small crowd and there were certainly more than 150 people present (from beginning to end). It amazes me how we can't have an intelligent discourse without resulting to juvenile tactics such as name calling and insults. Grow up!

Posted by: DWalker5 | October 28, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

pastorpwalker, DWalker5, the above photo was taken just after the start of the rally, at 3:12 p.m. We also have a photo from just before 4 p.m. that appears to show fewer people. Regardless, if either of you have photographs or other evidence of larger crowds, we'd be happy to take a look at it.

Christopher Dean Hopkins
Deputy Editor, Local Politics and Government

Posted by: Christopher Dean Hopkins | October 28, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

> pastorpwalker, DWalker5, ...

Was everyone at this massive protest named Walker?

Posted by: Richko | October 29, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Based on the average size of Christians in America, this very well could have been 100 protesters.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | October 29, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

While the picture confirms that there were about 150 people in attendance, there wasn't a count of how many D.C. residents were among them. Approximately half of people who testified in favor of the initiative before the BOEE on Monday were from outside of DC. Several others used office addresses, so we can't say if they actually live in DC.

Posted by: bob74 | October 29, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I was there, the photo is accurate. This might as well have been a movie set, these people we not DC residences but church-goers bused in from Maryland and Virginia, but mostly Maryland.

and billjones21 is correct, the Bishop is a liar.

Posted by: bobbarnes | October 31, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Lessee... Pastor PJWalker says he brought three busloads of over 150 persons, and there were several other buses as well.... shall we say ...six buses? With an average of 50-70 person each, that would be 300-420, give or take, which is a far cry from 2,000...which is a far cry from significant in a city of 500,000...which is odd, because if they were DC residents, why would they need to be bused in from outside?

DC residents are under the power of Congress to legislate for them "in all cases whatsoever", anyway. They don't get a say on anything else, if Congress, by whim or caprice, thinks otherwise, so what makes the reverends think they'll get a say on this matter. I suspect the Reverends are not from DC, but rather, from one of the fifty states, where citizens ARE Governed by Consent, and are unused to being in DC, where denizens are Governed WITHOUT Consent.

Posted by: citizenw | November 4, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

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