Thousands of activists for immigration reform have gone missing after only four hundred turned up at Wednesday’s rally in Bakersfield, CA outside the office of Republican Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy. Though the SEIU reported that “more than 5,000 people” had boarded buses to the rally, only a few hundred actually emerged in Bakersfield–potentially one of the greatest human tragedies in American history.
The Associated Press offered a figure of 1,500 attendees, citing estimates from Bakersfield police. Those estimates are clearly erroneous, based perhaps on expected rather than actual turnout. A local CBS affiliate reported from Los Angeles on the morning of the rally that “3,900 people” were going to the rally.
If so, thousands were lost on the way. Many vehicles are apparently missing, as well–the CBS affiliate reported that “the largest car and bus caravan in California” had left Dodger Stadium, though an organizer filmed by Breitbart News’ Lee Stranahan that morning only mentioned one truck and several other vehicles.
Yet journalists have largely failed to follow up on the missing demonstrators.
Of course, the vast majority of those demonstrators did not actually exist.
Earlier in the month, organizers had promised at least 5,000 activists would turn up to the event, which was billed as the climax of “Action August.” Yet Breitbart News’ Lee Stranahan counted roughly 400 demonstrators at the start of the rally, a figure that matched my impression of the rather sparse throng.
If the bussed-in crowd, which included many self-declared illegal immigrants, swelled at all after that point, it did not do so by much, despite the free lunches dished out by union organizers.
Only National Public Radio’s Kirk Siegler, who–like Stranahan–attended the event from start to finish, produced an accurate count of participants, noting that “hundreds of activists” had come to the rally, plus “a few onlookers.”
Perhaps the other thousands of protesters were “in the shadows,” so to speak, and therefore “invisible” to the naked eye.
The AP article credits “Erica Werner in Washington” with having contributed to its report. Perhaps she is responsible for the exaggerated attendance figure, since no one who was actually there would have made such a claim.
As for the thousands of demonstrators who disappeared between the SEIU, CBS and AP, there’s a human tragedy waiting to be reported.
This article has been updated.