Counting the Heads at Mayor’s Saturday Rally

One veteran political consultant said h/she never would have promised 10,000 people for an outdoor weekend event at City Hall without spectacular “programming,” like a fireworks show, to attract a crowd. But for days, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, basking in the national spotlight for his anti-domestic violence crusade, had talked up the 10,000 number for his rally denouncing abuse on Saturday. And, even though Saturday morning started out cold and wet, the mayor wound up drawing a decent crowd to Marilla Street—even if it was short of the target in numbers. But, how short was it?

The initial stories, including on the websites of several TV stations, reported that “hundreds” had shown up for the rally. By early afternoon, however, those figures had been changed in most cases to read “thousands.” On Sunday, the DMN reported 5,000 attending.

Addressing these discrepancies, commenter Dede Caplett wrote on several websites: “LOL. … Maybe 100 people were there total, including staff.” While Dede may have lowballed things, the Observer‘s Anna Merlan commented on Unfair Park that she had eyeballed the crowd and put it (unscientifically) at “a couple thousand.”

So, who came up with the 5,000 figure?

Twice on Monday morning, at separate times, two different Dallas Police Department spokesmen told us that the DPD had not made an official estimate of the crowd, since the rally was not a DPD event.

Then, around the time of our second DPD call, the mayor’s chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, relayed an email saying “DPD estimated 5-6K at rally on Saturday.”

A few hours later, one of the two DPD spokesman called us back to report: “We estimated it at 5,000.”

Meantime, the Dallas Independent School District had pledged to transport 1,000 of its male students to the rally on buses. But according to a DISD spokeswoman, a total of 200 DISD students—plus 100 students from a private religious school—actually were transported to the rally, perhaps owing to the bad weather or to other, conflicting events.


  • Wick Allison

    But still… He captured the airwaves and made his point, and it was a good point. I like this guy Rawlings.

  • DGirl

    I think it’s a sad statement that 10,000 men didn’t have the 20,000 testicles needed (give or take) to show up and take a stand against domestic violence.

    • Dubious Brother

      The Mayor’s stand on domestic violence helps perpetuate the myth that it is only a man problem. The family courts also ignore reality. Domestic violence is initiated by men and women at aproximately the same rate. The mayor was wrong to ignore half of the problem and quite frankly looks foolish to anyone that has researched DV.

  • Dubious Brother

    Didn’t anyone take a picture?

  • Bill Marvel

    One does not have to show up at a rally to “take a stand” against domestic violence.

  • LuckyDuckyDogs

    It started off slow at 9am due to the rain, but after 10:30am the crowd swelled. 5,000 seems about right. I know because we ran out of food! There were 10 food trucks there.

  • DGirl

    I completely agree with you, DB. Women are absolutely as likely to abuse children as men – parental alienation, neglect and emotional abuse seem to be many women’s MOs. Kinds and fathers are quite often the victims of that kind of abuse. There is one prominent domestic violence resource in Dallas who seems not to consider woman arr abusers at all. I’d love to see more gender inclusive language in my Partner’s Card brochure. What I am saying is that Saturday’s event provided a forum for men and women to stand together publicly and claim a position on the issue. And only 5000 of us did. Wish it could have been something every single person in North Texas participated in.

  • Eric Celeste

    I was there 10:15 to 11:15. No WAY it was 5k. MAYbe 3k. But Wick was right: as I walked up I saw a dad with his teenage boy walking up, and I thought, “no harm can come of this.”

  • todd

    Yet you chose to call out 20,000 (give or take) testicles for not taking a stand against domestic violence.

  • DGirl

    Apparently I did, Todd.