Having spent all day in Oakland Wedesday for the General Strike launched by Occupy Oakland, I knew something was wrong when I read reports like this one, which appeared in the San Jose Mercury News:
"Quan said she was happy the crowd -- which police estimate hit 7,000 people at one point -- protested all day with only a small amount of destruction and violence." (Emphasis mine.)
I'm terrible at estimating crowd sizes. Estimates of as low as 5,000 had made their way onto Twitter by mid-afternoon, but when I randomly asked people how large they thought the crowd was hours later, they guessed 20,000 or 30,000. None of us had an aerial view of the scene, of course, but the streets of downtown Oakland were clearly packed full.
Later on, the idea that the protests had drawn only 7,000 people seemed laughable. After following the 5 p.m. march from 14th and Broadway to the port, I spent more than an hour milling about in the crowd assembled there, where people were standing on top of trucks and holding dance parties in the streets. Upon heading out, I was amazed to see that people were still pouring in -- a cluster was just making its way across the overpass.
(By the way, if you ever happen to be in West Oakland and start getting a craving for fried oysters or fish and chips, check out Jk's Brickhouse, a bar nearby the port where longshoremen apparently like to hang out.)
Chronicle Columnist Zennie Abraham has published the highest crowd estimate I've seen yet. He wrote: "Oakland’s Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan (a capable and politically smart leader in a tough position) got the Occupy Oakland General Strike crowd count massively wrong: it’s not 7,000, but 100,000."
This seems reasonable. Check out this video of people marching to the port, which goes on for four and a half minutes.
As Abraham points out, a crowd of this magnitude counts as historic.