U.S. protest paints Keystone as emissions villain - The Globe and Mail
Organizers officially said 35,000 or more braved a cold, windy February afternoon for the protest, but turnout seemed significantly smaller. Even some of the protesters who had journeyed cross-country for the widely promoted Forward on Climate rally, voiced disappointment at the numbers.
Police don’t issue official crowd estimates because they are often disputed. However, a pair of officers with experience at big rallies on the Mall suggested the turnout was in the “thousands, perhaps ten.”
“Fantastic for a cold day” said Howie Chong, president of the Sierra Club of Canada. “The coalition we are building is really impressive.”
But a senior official with one of the organizing groups behind Sunday’s rally acknowledged privately that more had promised to attend than actually arrived.
Daniel Kessler, a spokesman for 350.org, one of the main organizing groups, hotly disputed low estimates. He said actual turnout was even greater than the 35,000 estimate “as many people later joined the march.” But long lines of portable toilets were mostly unused, some protesters left early and a straggling column marched on the White House two hours into the rally.
“No matter how discouraging the turnout, it’s important to be here and be heard,” said Jim Plunkett, 66, from Portland, Ore., who drove across the country with his wife to decry the Keystone pipeline. “We came a long way to do this.”