Bernie rallies 10,000 to Craneway Pavilion

Senator Sanders energizes Richmond community, organizes canvassing effort

Denis Perez / The Advocate
Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks to thousands of supporters at a rally in Richmond’s Craneway Pavilion on Monday, Feb. 17.

RICHMOND — Bay Area voters crammed into the Craneway Pavilion here to rally for democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders Monday.
Individuals young and old had excitement in their eyes as they waited for Sanders to take the stage.
The Get Out the Vote rally was intended to encourage potential voters, especially those with no party preference (the second largest demographic of voters in California), to register as democrats before the Tuesday registration deadline for the California primary election on March 3.

A coalition of local politicians gregariously took the stage before Sanders came out.
Richmond City Council members Eduardo Martinez, Melvin Willis and former council member Jovanka Beckles all garnered applause. The crowd erupted in excitement at the announcement of San Francisco’s new District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s presence.
Sen. Sanders walked onstage with his wife Jane to roaring cheers from the thousands overflowing the pavilion.
The crowd was in a frenzy as multiple chants reverberated through the building keeping the senator from getting his first few sentences out clearly.
“As somebody who was raised in a rent-controlled apartment living paycheck to paycheck, I am proud we are a campaign for the working class, by the working class,” Sanders said.
From that point on, every statement he made was welcomed by enormous applause.
The themes of his stump speech hit the usual notes from his campaign trail while focusing on bringing communities together in spite of the hateful, divisive rhetoric coming from the current presidential administration.
He said health care is a human right, asked for equal pay for equal work, encouraged investment in public education and endorsed tuition-free college.
The California Nurses Association, represented at the rally, is one of many medical organizations supporting a Sanders nomination.
Doctors for Bernie is another group advocating for the senator.
Former city councilperson Dr. Jeff Ritterman said, “I’ve been working as a doctor for 40 years. If I look at the nation as my patient, I see a sick patient and I think that the prescription is Bernie Sanders. Income and wealth inequality is a huge factor driving illness and early death.
“We don’t have an adequate health care system. He’s the only one with a program for that,” Dr. Ritterman said. “He has a program in every facet that’s going to lead to a healthier country. There’s nobody who’s going to make us healthier as a nation than Sen. Sanders.”
Two sisters with platinum white hair had eager grins as they cheered for Sanders.
“I believe in economic fairness,” marketing professional Megan Nelson said. “I think the income gap between the rich and the poor is the biggest issue facing America today. I’m interested in his policies on educators. My sister is a teacher and I believe they should be paid a fair wage.
“In addition, I really like his policy on end-of-life care, Social Security, expanding Medicare and making sure we take care of our young people. Those are the things most important to me, but I’m hard-pressed to find anything I don’t agree with him on, so he’s kind of the perfect candidate.”
A good political campaign inspires not just voters, but a movement, for which Senator Sanders asked his supporters on Monday.
“Real fundamental change never happens from the top down, always from the bottom on up. It is the history of the civil rights movement, women’s rights movement and gay rights movement,” Sanders said.
He asked everyone to consider “us not me” by changing the culture to where every family has to care for one another. A treacherous road lies ahead to turn these visions into a reality.
“No President can do it alone. We need a mass political movement,” he said.
An African American student, with eyelids highlighted green and yellow, stood among the crowd with a bright smile.
Diablo Valley College student Camille Byers said, “I really want to see our student loans get paid off. I feel like that could help our economy a lot. A lot of people who are in debt are paying way too much — up to $30,000. It really affects them and affects future generations.”
Young activists against the dairy industry caused a ruckus in front of the podium as they chanted “death to dairy” during Sanders’ speech.
Multiple people from the crowd approached the group and respectfully asked them to quiet down explaining this was not the way to get their cause heard. The activists left in dismay.
Before the speech, a young couple had claimed the center spot to get a good view of the podium.
Attendee Izzy Mackler said, “We have a climate crisis, which is caused by the profit-seeking behavior of the fossil fuel industry and the only way to confront that is by changing our economic system in a fundamental way. Bernie is the only one who is going to be able to bring that kind of change and fight for it.”
Mackler said, “The whole system that we live under is one which is organized toward profit- making for a small number of people rather than what’s best for the vast majority of people, so I see the election of Bernie Sanders as one strike in a long battle against our existing system.”
The attacks in Sanders’ speech were focused on President Donald Trump and his most worthy primary opponent, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“Donald Trump thinks climate change is a hoax. I think Donald Trump is a hoax,” Sanders said. “Mr. Bloomberg, like everyone else, has the right to run for president, but he does not have the right to buy the presidency.”
He also spoke about the GOP’s playbook claiming their mantra of limited government is not something they live by.
“If they want limited government, women, not the government should be controlling their own bodies,” Sanders said.
Sanders kept calling back to Trump’s ethically incompetent administration.
“In my administration we’re going to listen to scientists, not right-wing extremists,” Sanders said. The senator promised to introduce the most comprehensive climate change proposal ever.
He spoke of moving America’s energy systems away from fossil fuels to sustainable, renewable energy which, he said, would create 20 million union jobs.
There were also promises made on his first actions if sworn into office.
“On day one, through executive order, I will repeal Trump’s racist immigration policies,” Sanders said.