Photos: Over 27,000 Berners Rally For Bernie Sanders In Los Angeles
It was a packed house last night with over 27,000 "Berners" supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders cheering, chanting and stomping in support of his campaign rally in Los Angeles.
The energy level at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena was high. LAist's photographer, Perhansa Skallerup said it was on par with a "popular Christian rock concert." A campaign spokesperson told Variety that since the arena could only hold 17,500, the rest of the people who showed up to the rally were in an overflow area outside that had giant TV screens projected the rally. The crowd was a mix of young college-aged folks, older hippies, and a largely white turnout, though there were also Latinos, Asians and blacks in the crowd. People held signs like "Feel the Bern" and "Shine Bright Like A Bernie," and there were others with "Black Lives Matters" shirts and signs.
Sanders' rally even trotted out a celebrity. Comedian Sarah Silverman introduced him to the stage. "I give you, if we’re all very smart and a little bit lucky, the next president of the United States," Silverman said as the crowd erupted in applause.
Earlier this week at a Seattle rally, members of the city's Black Lives Matter chapter interrupted his rally to push him to focus on racial justice. The push worked and he vowed to make racial justice a part of his platform last night: "There is no president, none, one year after the death of Michael Brown, no president who will fight harder to end institutional racism than I will."
Sanders's new national press secretary, Symone Sanders, who is not related to Bernie and is a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, went on stage to show her support for him. "It is very important that we say the words 'black lives matter,' Symone Sanders said. "But it's also important to have people in political office who are going to turn those words into action. No candidate for president is going to fight harder for criminal justice reform and racial justice issues than Senator Bernie Sanders."
The candidate, who is competing against Hillary Rodham Clinton in the presidential race for the Democratic nomination, is a self-described "socialist." He gave Los Angeles kudos for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, talked about the need for public colleges and universities to have free tuition for students, and discussed the problems with mass incarceration. He discussed immigration, about giving people a path to citizenship, which gave way to uproarious applause from the crowd.
"This is an economy that is rigged and meant to benefit those on top," Bernie Sanders said. "We need an economy that works for all people."
At 73, Bernie Sanders was energized and strong, and his voice was even a little hoarse by the end. He left the stage while Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World" played in the background.