Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Crowds Assembling in D.C. January 5, 2021, Ahead Of Demonstration Supporting Trump's Attempt To Overturn Election

Fact Check

  • by: Dean Miller
Fact Check: Photo Does NOT Show Crowds Assembling in D.C. January 5, 2021, Ahead Of Demonstration Supporting Trump's Attempt To Overturn Election Not 2021

Does this photo show crowds thronging the streets of Washington, D.C., on January 5, 2021, a day ahead of when supporters of Donald Trump planned to demonstrate in favor of his crusade to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election? No, that's not true: Washington, D.C., was overcast on January 5, 2021, and a simple image search online shows a clear match to a 2018 photo of the crowds that turned out for the "March For Our Lives" gun control demonstration organized by high school students.

The photo, used in multiple false reports on social media, was used in a Facebook post (archived here) where it was published on January 5, 2021, under the title, "This is the crowd size today." It opened:

...and the (sic) expect even more on tomorrow, January 6th.

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Jan 5 23:37:05 2021 UTC)

Lead Stories staff stationed in Washington, D.C., reported the sunny-day scene shown in this and other identical posts was impossible, since January 5, 2021, was an overcast day in Washington on which WeatherTAB had predicted a 45% chance of precipitation.

Copying the entire image from the Facebook post and using it in this image search on TinEye retrieves the following summary:

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 24: Attendees are seen at the March for Our Lives rally on Saturday, March 24, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As part of its coverage of the march in 2018, CBS News had reported it hired a crowd-estimating service on the day, calculating more than 200,000 marched on the U.S. capitol, demanding changes to U.S. gun laws in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

More than 200,000 people attended the March for Our Lives demonstration in Washington D.C. on Saturday, according to Digital Design & Imaging Service Inc (DDIS). The Virginia-based firm uses a proprietary method for calculating crowd size using aerial photos.

The peak crowd size was 202,796 people, with a margin of error of 15 percent, the firm said. The crowd reached its largest size at 1 p.m., according to the company's estimates.

Following are other examples of conservative activists using the March For Our Lives crowdshots to claim strong support for the effort to invalidate Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over Donald Trump.

The first example is from the "Gilded Truth" account.


(Facebook screenshot Tue Jan 5 23:19 2021 UTC)


(Facebook screenshot Tue Jan 5 22:30 2021 UTC)

Want to inform others about the accuracy of this story?

See who is sharing it (it might even be your friends...) and leave the link in the comments.:

This fact check is available at IFCN's 2020 US Elections #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

  Dean Miller

Lead Stories Managing Editor Dean Miller has edited daily and weekly newspapers, worked as a reporter for more than a decade and is co-author of two non-fiction books. After a Harvard Nieman Fellowship, he served as Director of Stony Brook University's Center for News Literacy for six years, then as Senior Vice President/Content at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. Most recently, he wrote the twice-weekly "Save the Free Press" column for The Seattle Times. 

Read more about or contact Dean Miller

Different viewpoints

Note: if reading this fact check makes you want to contact us to complain about bias, please check out our Red feed first.

About Us

International Fact-Checking Organization Meta Third-Party Fact Checker

Lead Stories is a fact checking website that is always looking for the latest false, misleading, deceptive or inaccurate stories, videos or images going viral on the internet.
Spotted something? Let us know!.

Lead Stories is a:


Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

Please select all the ways you would like to hear from Lead Stories LLC:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Most Read

Most Recent

Share your opinion