Experts Lower March Count Slightly to 837,214

From Associated Press

Experts re-examined photos and video footage of the "Million Man March" and lowered their crowd count slightly to 837,214 Friday--much higher than the National Park Service's estimate but far lower than the Nation of Islam's.

The National Park Service estimated 400,000 people attended the Oct. 16 march in Washington. The Nation of Islam, which organized the event, estimated attendance as high as 2 million and said the government undercounted because of racial bias. Most of the marchers were black men.

Scientists at Boston University's Center for Remote Sensing used aerial photographs provided by the park service to do their second computer analysis of the turnout.

The center's director, Farouk El-Baz, said Friday the new estimate was 837,214, with a 20% margin of error. That means the actual number could have been as low as 670,000, or as high as 1,004,000.

The center's first estimate, conducted for ABC-TV's "Good Morning America," was 870,000, with a larger margin of error.

Treasury Department spokeswoman Stephanie Hanna said the park service stood by its count but was reviewing the new estimate and other data to see if the service's numbers and methods need revision.

Hanna pointed out the park service used more than just photographs to come up with its estimate: counting the buses that came to town and people who used public transportation, for example.

For the new estimate, the scientists selected 14 photographs taken from helicopters between 3:17 p.m. and 3:29 p.m. El-Baz dismissed the notion that the park service intentionally undercounted, saying it doesn't have the proper equipment or training to do state-of-the-art scientific crowd estimates.

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