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Experts Lower Estimate for ‘Million Man March’ Turnout to 837,000

October 27, 1995 GMT

BOSTON (AP) _ Experts who re-examined photographs and video footage of the Million Man March lowered their estimate today and said they believed 837,000 people attended the rally in Washington.

The count was more than double the official estimate of 400,000 initially provided by the National Park Service, and lower than the estimates of up to 2 million by the Nation of Islam, which helped organize the Oct. 16 march.

Boston University’s Remote Sensing Center used its digital photo enhancement and analysis techniques to provide a scientific estimate of the crowd size.

ABC’s ``Good Morning America″ asked the center last week to offer an estimate based on Park Service photos. The center put the number at 870,000, but said the study had a margin of error of 25 percent, meaning the actual number could have been as low as 655,000 or as high as 1.1 million.

On Tuesday, the center’s director, Farouk El-Baz, and his researchers re-examined the photos and studied additional pictures taken by the Park Service and ABC. El-Baz said the new estimate was 837,214, and with a margin of error of 20 percent, the range was 670,000 to 1,004,000.

Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff for the Nation of Islam, said the latest count still was too low.

``We know there are still volumes of people that have not yet been counted and it is our duty and responsibility to see to it that every young man who came to Washington in the spirit of atonement and reconciliation is marked present and not absent,″ Muhammad said.

National Park Service Director Roger Kennedy said it would issue a final crowd estimate after analyzing the data from today’s recount.

``We’re going to keep on learning as we go. That’s why we welcome this information,″ Kennedy said.

The Nation of Islam has threatened to sue the agency, charging that racism motivated an undercount.