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PARK SERVICE SAYS COUNT NOT RELEVANT

SHARE PARK SERVICE SAYS COUNT NOT RELEVANT

The dispute over the number of people who attended the Million Man March threatens to diminish the event's "astonishing success," the head of the National Park Service said Saturday.

The park service's official estimate of 400,000 people gathered last Monday on the Mall angered event organizers, who said at least 1 million attended. Boston University researchers suggested the crowd numbered about 870,000."An enormous number of people came together respectfully and peacefully to make a statement - that's what matters," Roger G. Kennedy, the park service director, said in an interview. "The rest of this, I lament to say, might for some people diminish the effect of that astonishing success."

Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, which organized the march, attributed what he said was a low crowd count to racism and threatened to sue the park service.

Park service officials gave march organizers detailed photographs Friday showing the density of the crowd.

In comments published Saturday, Kennedy appeared to suggest the park service underestimated the size of the crowd. But in a telephone interview Saturday, Kennedy said he meant to stress that no crowd count could be precise.