The crowd at the March for Our Lives demonstration in the nation’s capital on Saturday, March 24, was much smaller than estimates from the organizers of the event, according to an imaging company.
The gun control march in Washington peaked at 202,796 people, according to Digital Design & Imaging Service.
The Virginia-based company starts with aerial photos and uses a proprietary method for calculating crowd size based on the photos, according to CBS News.
Organizers for the march claimed approximately 800,000 people attended the event, reported NBC News.
March organizers told ABC 7 that they couldn’t comment on the exact figure but cited “reports published by major news organizations [that] put the crowd size at 850,000 people.”
Metrorail said that total ridership was 558,735 for the entire day, which includes people who were not attending the march.
The agency reported a total ridership of 1 million on the day of the Women’s March in Washington last year.
That march was the largest single-day demonstration in U.S. history, according to Digital Design & Imaging Service. That event drew 440,000 people, the company said.
— DigitalGlobe (@DigitalGlobe) March 24, 2018
— Metro (@wmata) March 25, 2018
Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, estimated that at least 470,000 people attended the march last year, reported The New York Times.
A city official told The Associated Press that participation in the march likely surpassed half a million.
The National Park Service, though, said an anti-Vietnam War protest in 1969 drew 600,000 people, reported The Associated Press.
Participation estimates in gatherings on the National Mall and nearby areas used to be provided by the service, but the agency stopped after the Million Man March in 1995.
Nation of Islam Louis Farrakhan, known for his racist comments against white people and his disparaging comments against Jews, threatened to sue the park service after the agency estimated that 400,000 attended the march, while organizers believed they had reached their goal of 1 million participants, according to AP.
Researchers at Boston University later estimated that the crowd was actually in between the figures, around 800,000 people.
No lawsuit ended up being filed but it ended the official estimates from the park service. The following year, Congress barred the agency from spending money to count crowds, and the practice has continued to this day despite the language disappearing from subsequent budgets.
“No matter what we said or did, no one ever felt we gave a fair estimate,” U.S. Park Police Maj. J.J. McLaughlin said.