CNN U.S. News

Washington prepares for Million Man March

October 14, 1995
Web posted at: 3:10 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent John Holliman

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- How do you handles a million men crammed into a 23-block area between the U.S. Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial?

The answer, it appears, is that nobody knows.


"Washington knows how to handle large crowds," said Mayor Marion Barry. "There are more buses and cars coming in. We're ready for that." (183K AIFF sound or 183K WAV sound)

Privately the mayor says he can't worry about logistics, that Monday's march will take care of itself. But the city's government has been frustrated by the lack of organization by Million Man March planners, and by the fact that it has never had to deal with this many people in Washington on a work day.

"The worst possible nightmare, if everything goes according to plan, is trying to get everybody out of the city and onto the buses..." said Levy Kelly of the National Park Service. "That's going to be a monumental task for everyone."

Organizers must find places to park for 11,000 buses, which would stretch for 100 miles if parked end to end. Washington's RFK Stadium can hold only 2,500 buses, and the Pentagon has told organizers the buses can't park in its huge lots.

Authorities say they will need 3,000 port-a-johns lined up along the mall, and so far they've only been able to find 1,000. Do the math -- that translates to one for every 300 people.

Major streets around the Capitol will be closed during the march, and police will be stationed on every street corner for 20 blocks. Officers won't go into the crowd unless they're needed. The Nation of Islam promises 10,000 marshals to work inside the crowd.


Many of the 400,000 federal workers here are expected to come in to work, but they're not happy about it.

"What about the rights of businessmen in the city to sell products?" said Bert Croushorn. "What about our rights?" (145K AIFF sound or 145K WAV sound)

And bus driver Ben Ladd summed up many Washingtonians' feelings about Monday. "I think the city is going to be a mess," he said.


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