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February 27, 2011 05:33 AM UTC

Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Solidarity Across America

  • by: nancycronk

Rallies were held at state capitols in all fifty states this past week, bringing out hundreds of thousands of Americans to stand in solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. The rallies were a joint effort of, labor unions, and progressive organizations. The protests, which were called “the largest rallies since the VietNam war” on facebook and twitter, were held in support of collective bargaining rights for all people.

Saturday’s protests involved more than 100,000 people. In Denver, 3000 people showed up Saturday, to voice their support, carrying signs that read things like “Cairo-Madison-Denver” and “Unions are the bedrock of the middle class”.  Immediately following the Denver pro-union rally, a coalition of pro-choice groups held a rally against the Congressional attacks on women’s rights. Several hundred people stayed to attend that rally, which became a march along neighboring streets, and back to the capitol.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that only five self-identified tea-party activists were in attendance at the Denver rally.

Several union organizers commented that the crowd in Denver was not the typical rally crowd. Many individuals who turned out did so after hearing reports about the rally this past Tuesday, which was estimated at 1000-1200 people. Several people I asked told me they did not belong to a union, but they believe in them philosophically. As Robert (last name withheld) told me, “If it weren’t for unions, there would be no middle class.”

I asked a number of people in the crowd their occupations, and how they heard about today’s rally in Denver. Several were teachers who said they heard about the rally through  One of them said she did not hear about it through her union, the Colorado Education Association (CEA), and was angry that they didn’t encourage members to participate. Another teacher, a member of the Denver Classroom Teacher’s Association (DCTA), said he heard about the rally through, and called to confirm the details with his union. “They had to put me on hold and look it up. I don’t think they knew anything about it before I called.”

Several other teachers said they heard about the event through their union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Others heard union organizer Russel Bannan speak about it on the radio.

Union members in attendance also represented firefighters, truck drivers, grocery workers, communication workers, air traffic controllers, and plumbers. One man wore his fire fighter gear combined with a Wisconsin “cheesehead”.

Humans were joined with dozens of canine “protesters”, including a few service animals. Several people arrived in wheelchairs and a number of children arrived in strollers.

In Madison, Wisconsin, the crowd was estimated to be between 100,000-150,000, depending on the source.

Olympia, WA with Dennis Kucinich

Oregon rally:

Chicago, Illinois:

In Minnesota:

In Indiana:

In New Mexico:

From Tuesday in Boston, MA:

Tuesday in Oakland, CA

Albany, NY


22 thoughts on “Hundreds of Thousands Protest in Solidarity Across America

  1. I had heard 80 and 100K for Madison and Channel 7 put ours at 1K but our city paper cited the 3K figure and I know it was much bigger than Tuesday’s because I was at both, oddly with even fewer Tea Partiers there Saturday.

    In any case, the growth is bringing more much needed coverage and we need to keep it up all over the country as they are doing so well in Madison.  I’m sure the Kochs thought this would all be over in days in Wisconsin and not much attention would be paid to their draconian plans or to the fact that Walker is their poodle after that. Thanks for this diary.

    1. Mine are on the high end, I know. I got them from union organizers. I was trained to approximate crowd sizes as an organizer, and the numbers I hear from the unions are more accurate than the ones on tv most of the time (I don’t think they train reporters to estimate crowds). The Denver Post has a dismal record of estimating — they always say 200 when they don’t know. Since they are right across the street from the capitol, crowds probably all look the same from their window!

      Marcus Chamberland, one of their editors, told me they get their numbers from the police. I asked the police. They said, “Depends on who answers the phone”. I’m going with the organizers who have been trained.

      I know when we did turn-out for rallies in 2009, the Post was usually way off. They also try to show equal representation on both sides of a protest, even when it is far from equal. I think it sells papers. At Saturday’s rally, we had 3000 people, and the tea partiers had exactly five. Hard to put any other spin on that one!

      1. A crowd of 200 can have the same footprint as a crowd of 3000. It depends on density. Are people in a ten foot personal space circle or a two foot one? In other words, is the crowd “packed” or are people moving around freely? Can you see objects around each person (trees, strollers, dogs, down to their feet, etc.) or do you just see heads and shoulders? A person who has seen many rallies knows how to estimate crowd size based on these and many other factors.

        If a person is looking from the back of the event and across the street, the footprint may look a certain way, but if they don’t calculate the density, the numbers can be way off.

        The best place to see crowd size at the capitol in Denver, by the way, is from the balcony. At Tuesday’s rally, State Rep. Crisanta Duran took a photo of the whole crowd from up there, which made it easy to divide the crowd into quadrants, then eighths, counting “rows” back from a midpoint, to get the estimated density in each unit of measurement back from the steps (density goes down gradually as the distance from the midpoint increases). Crisanta’s photo gives credibility to the 1000+ estimate.

        Veteran rally-goers get pretty good at eye-balling this stuff, just like people who go to football games learn to eyeball the crowd for density. My first rally was in 1980 in Ann Arbor, MI for the Equal Rights Ammendment. Sadly, we still don’t have it!

      2. there is some inflation from those with an interest in a good turn out and deflation from those who want to say it was no big deal.  Mostly not on purpose to deceive (except on Fox where they actually use footage from another event to produce the desired crowd size) .  More like it’s hard to estimate crowds and you tend to let what you want to be the case influence judgement.  

        Using that supposition as a guide, this movement has not just sustained very good numbers but built on them.  At this point in time, even if no more than 80K are still turning up in Madison, that’s amazingly high. Even if no more than 2000 showed up at the Denver Capitol, that’s excellent for this type of demonstration.  And the disparity was so great at ours between the supporters and the antis, the media finally made a point of noting the difference. That’s good, too.

        These days it seems like the whole world is demonstrating.  Now if only the whole world really was watching.  

      3. Count the legs and divide by two.

        Joke aside, Cops can be accurate if you talk to officers who are actually at the event. Oftentimes a police spokesman or higher-up isn’t even there.

          1. We are fortunate in CO to have some amazing grassroots organizers in Colorado who differently-abled, many of them in wheelchairs. We also have a very active Veteran’s community on the Democrat side. They are truly inspiring!

  2. and, leave it in the stores:

    Koch Industries consumer products and companies:

    – Dixie Cups

    – Brawny

    – Angel Soft

    – Quilted Northern

    – Stainmaster

    – Vanity Fair napkins

    – Mardis Gras napkins

    – Georgia Pacific products

    – Holiday Companies

    – Gander Mountain

    1. Same as boycotting Beck or Limbaugh. I can’t remember the last time I bought any of those products in the first place so I can’t very well stop buying them.  But thanks for list.  Since major brands often make cheaper store brands, which I do buy, I wonder where I can find out which of those are connected to Koch brands.

  3. I noticed that somehow, even with only five Tea Party activists present, the Schmenver Toast managed to publish a picture of a uniformed cop mediating an argument between one of the Tea folks and a young female union activist. Mr. Tea Party was standing up on some sort of pillar wearing a yellow jacket like a cape–very brave these gentlemen, needing a higher vantage point to argue with a girl who looked about 19.

    Bizarre that unions aren’t promoting solidarity protests–maybe they don’t want to give House Republicans the idea that Colorado’s unionists are getting uppity, too. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down and all.

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