JANUARY 22, 2009
The government agency prohibited by Congress from conducting crowd estimates at major events officially adopted a local newspaper’s inflated figure for this week’s presidential inauguration.
The National Park Service proudly evaded the law to report that 1.8 million people attended Barack Obama’s inauguration, a figure questioned by several reputable sources including a crowd counting expert from the University of Illinois and a world renowned intelligence company.
The experts all agree that the crowd numbered between 1.3 million and 1.7 million, but definitely not 1.8 million. Incredibly, the federal agency that manages the country’s national parks and monuments got the figure from the local newspaper and passed it along as official.
Using satellite imagery, the intelligence publishing company Jane’s Information Group counted between 1.3 million and 1.7 million in and around the Mall and parade route. The crowd counting expert professor emeritus from Illinois said that 1.5 million people spread from the west lawn of the Capitol to the far end of the reflecting pool and a George Mason University professor of tourism, who has conducted research on crowded Washington D.C. events, said the number was closer to 1 million.
In 1997 Congress prohibited the National Park Service from conducting crowd estimates after the agency was accused of racism by organizers of a march organized by famed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, a renowned ant-Christian and anti-Semite. The park service estimated that well under 1 million men participated in Farrakhan’s 1995 Million Man March and has since been banned from making such crowd assessments.
Agency officials say they disregarded the longtime Congressional mandate because Obama’s inauguration was historic. So they decided to go with most inflated number.
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