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BLM March Was Extraordinary By Any Measure

Somehow we have come to describe Groton's BLM march as attended by “more than 300” people. That number has shown up in print a number of times (including the last issue of the GH) and has entered the local lexicon.
     It’s not that it isn’t true, there were more than 300, however, the reality is there were considerably more than 300 people there. It is kind of like saying there are more than three eggs in a dozen. Normally it wouldn’t matter, but that gathering and march were created and organized by Groton’s young adults and it was extraordinary by any measure. To celebrate attendance at 300 (how long will the “more than” last?) isn’t fair to the people who organized the event and the overwhelming support of the townspeople who attended.
     I am no crowd estimator, but here’s what I know and have learned. The main lot at the middle school was full of cars. It has approximately 200 spaces and every space was taken. Maybe there were more cars at Twomey (Center). The lots adjacent to Workers (Credit Union) have approximately 70 spaces and were full. I don’t know how many parked at the Baptist Church or on side streets. Most cars had more than one passenger and many carried families. Many people walked. Some rode bikes. There were a lot of people.
     Photographer Steve Lieman timed the march down Champney St. at nine minutes long which is verified by the time stamps on his photos as the first people passed him and the last. At a relatively leisurely pace of two MPH for nine minutes, 300 people consists of a single file line of people walking five ft. behind each other. Clearly not the case.
     So here’s some math to try to get a better estimate. A two MPH pace works out to walking 176 ft. per minute. If it took nine minutes., the march was 9 x 176 = 1584 feet long, which seems about right. At that total length, a single-file line with people spaced about three feet apart would total 500 people. But it wasn’t single file. At an average of four feet apart (which seems fair) and an average of three abreast, it’s total distance (1584 ft.) divided by distance between people (4 ft.) times people abreast (3), makes 1188 people. And honestly, that feels about right. A few of us who were there estimated between 1000 - 1500 people at the time.
     The truth is we’ll never know and maybe we don’t need to know that precisely. But everyone I’ve spoken to feels it’s important. 2020 will be remembered for 100 years. The march was a source of enormous pride for so many in our town, especially people of color, young adults, and youth. It would be great to set the record straight. “More than 1000 people” sounds about right.
Alan Hurvitz
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