On April 17, Bernie Sanders was welcomed back to his home turf in the borough of Brooklyn by over 28,000 people on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Supporters from all over the world, including Australia and China, came to support the Vermont Senator in this momentous rally held in Prospect Park. The first of this crowd arrived at around 8:30 in the morning, a few of which were students from Western Connecticut State University.
The doors opened at noon but arriving about 3 hours beforehand proved to be worthy to these determined students because not only did they stand front row at the rally, but also met Senator Sanders himself. Marissa Theriault, Joseph Carangui, and Noah O’Connor had the opportunity to shake his hand and take selfies with him.
The line for the event wrapped around the perimeter of the park and was composed of people of all generations and ethnic backgrounds. One die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter, Ernest Dawson, was selling buttons 1 for $2 and 3 for $5 on a umbrella. His selling point, however, had little to do with his variety of buttons but instead the fact that he has given over thousands of dollars of contributions to Sanders in increments of $27. He even gave out buttons to those without cash who promised to donate $2 to the campaign.
Prior to Senator Sanders speaking, a reggae artist from Jamaica, a local hip hop group, and a rock band pumped up the crowd. Justin Long and Danny DeVito were also special speakers at the event. Other speakers included CNN’s Sally Kohn, Hawaii’s Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and New York councilman Jumaane Williams.
The Congresswoman introduced Senator Sanders by speaking about an issue people believe he has little interest or experience in, which she proved to be wrong. Being a veteran, she was able to relate on a firsthand level to war and describe why Senator Sanders was her choice in President.
“These are decisions that have costs trillions of dollars and countless of lives. These are decisions that have undermined our national security, strengthening groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda whose terrorist actions continue around the world. Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, he has made it clear that he will end these unnecessary interventionist wars and instead use our resources to rebuild our own country, our own community, right here at home,” preached Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
Finally, Danny DeVito called his “Obi-Wan” on stage. The crowd burst into a cheer, welcoming their preferred candidate back to Brooklyn. Senator Sanders’ speech was quite similar to that of the Albany rally, addressing mainly social issues while elaborating on his belief of free healthcare and college education. Characteristically, he began by talking about equal representation in politics for all.
“We want a government that represents all of us, not just the 1%… We’re going to win this thing without being dependent on Wall Street.”
On the topic of Wall Street, he brought attention to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speeches; Senator Sanders emphasized that if a speech costs this much money to give, everyone deserves to hear what it says, making sure quid pro quos are not occurring.
Senator Sanders brought up the Iraq War to remind the audience that he voted against the war even though Clinton had voted yes.
“In 2002, Secretary Clinton, who was in the Senate, and I, who was in the House, we heard the same evidence from George Bush and Dick Cheney about whether or not we should go to war in Iraq. I listened very very carefully, I didn’t believe what they were saying, I voted against that war.”
Shifting gears back to the big business in America, he called out big businesses and insisted that during his administration, corporations will have to invest in our country. This appealed to the people because one of the main concerns of the American people is the fall of the economy and lack of jobs.
“If elected president, we are going to transform out trade policy; Corporate America will start investing in this country, not just in China.”
Staying on the topic of jobs and the economy, Senator Sanders talked about the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, calling it a “starvation wage.” Another topic brought up was the need to preserve clean water. The self-proclaimed Democratic-Socialist firmly believes in the right to clean, accessible drinking water for all, and made no hesitation in discussing its importance. That said, he said that this could not be done with fracking.
“We’ve got to get rid of fracking… The people of our country and the people of this world need to know that there will be clean drinking water for them and their kids in the years to come. We need to stand up to the fossil fuel industry…Leaving this planet healthy and habitable for our children and grandchildren is a moral issue.”
He then transitioned to the topic he is best known for, Wall Street and big banks.
“What I find amazing is that some kid today in Brooklyn is gonna get arrested for possession of marijuana and that kid will have a criminal record for the rest of his life, but you can be an executive on Wall Street and your illegal actions can impact the lives of millions of people but you get no criminal record, not you, you get an increase in your compensation.”
He then talked about expanding social security. He wants to “create an economy that works for working people, that works for the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor, all people, not just the 1%.” The next issue was youth employment. He brought up statistics where youth employment among all races ranges from roughly 30% to over 50%, with African American children being affected the most.
Going into the problems that affect the minority communities, especially African Americans, the issue of police brutality was brought up.
“I am tired, and you are tired of seeing unarmed people being shot and killed by the police…The truth is that just like any other public official, if a police officer breaks the law, that officer must be held accountable. We need to demilitarize police departments all over this country. We need to make local police departments reflect the diversity of the communities they represent.”
He wrapped up his speech by reminding the public that minorities are still struggling everyday after the repercussions of being segregated and held back throughout history. Latinos, African Americans, and the Natives all over the country were used as examples. He addressed women’s rights too, including equal pay and their rights over their own bodies.
“We owe the Native American people more than we can ever repay, but from day one, before we became a country. they were lied to and cheated in treaties that hadn’t been negotiated or broken. If I become President, there will be a new relationship with the Native Americans…This campaign is listening to women. And women are telling me they are sick and tired of earning 79 cents on the dollar compared to men. They want the whole damn dollar.”
Closing his speech, he spoke of love and the unity that lies within the morals of all major religions.
Today, New York will hold its primary, offering up 247 delegates to either Sanders or Clinton. If Sanders wins New York, he may have a chance to outnumber Clinton in delegates, not counting her lead in superdelegates.