Danny Reinan, Staff Writer
The public turned out in droves to show their support for Senator of Vermont and Democratic presidential nominee hopeful Bernie Sanders, who held a rally on the University of Minnesota campus. The rally was originally intended to be held in the University’s Northrop Auditorium, a venue with a capacity of about 3,000 seats, but the demand for the Nov. 3 rally proved to far exceed that and the event was moved to a much larger venue – Williams Arena, with a capacity of about 14,000 seats.
Kicking off the event was young speaker Sean Bearth, the Campus Core Leader of Students for Bernie at the University of Minnesota. The next to speak was former Ohio Senator and Co-Chair of the Sanders 2020 campaign, Nina Turner, who evoked Prince in her opening words. “Dearly beloved,” Turner said. “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.” She argued for the basic humanity found in Bernie’s policies and principles. “What the people want is simple,” she said. “Why can’t we cancel student debt? Why can’t we cancel medical debt?” The crowd burst into cheers when she shouted “Let’s go crazy for revolution! Who’s with me?”
The room’s excitement was kicked up even further when Representative Ilhan Omar, who represents Minnesota’s fifth district, took to the stage. The recently-elected representative has already collaborated extensively with Sanders, and she shared a piece of her narrative in order to illuminate the reason why she felt he was worth standing behind. “When I was a young girl living in a refugee camp, I had an expectation of America where every single person had an opportunity for a good life – where we would be welcomed with open arms and given the opportunity to create our own destiny,” she said. “That is the America Bernie Sanders is fighting for, and here in Minnesota, we believe in him.” Omar shared her pride in the unity and diversity found in her district. “In our district, the Hmong community, Black community, Muslim community, Jewish community and every other community work side by side,” she said “I want you all to fight for someone you don’t know in this election. It’s about time we build a movement that is a reflection of all of us.”
When Sanders finally stepped up to speak his piece, the enthusiastic crowd hung on his every word. He declared his intent to cancel all student debt and make college tuition free, and he expressed his plans to overhaul the American healthcare system. “Tonight, we declare from the bottom of our hearts that healthcare is a human right,” he said. “We will end the absurdity of America paying by far the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.” He also explained his plans to reform the housing system in America – by introducing a comprehensive housing bill that would create 10 million new housing units, with the aim of eliminating homelessness, fighting gentrification and putting a national control on rent into place. Sanders highlighted the hypocrisy that he saw in the private prison system, and expressed his resolve to change it. “We are going to end private prisons and detention centers,” he said. “When we talk about criminal justice reform, we are going to change a system where tens of thousands of Americans get criminal records for marijuana possession, but not one Wall Street executive got a criminal record for destroying the economy.” He then showed his intent to stand up to ICE by reforming the immigration process in the United States. “No more snatching babies from the arms of their mothers,” he said. “No more locking children in cages. We will put an end to the disastrous ICE raids that are terrorizing our country.”
Sanders ended his speech with statements promoting unity and collective action. “Real change has never taken place from the top down,” he said, citing the civil rights movement, womens’ rights movement, campaigns for gay marriage and workers’ rights movement as examples. With his final words on stage, he called the attendants to unite together for political change. “In this unprecedented moment in United States history, we need an unprecedented grassroots movement,” he proclaimed. “I know the extraordinary power of these people. But at the end of the day, they are only 1%. And we’re the 99%!”
This article was originally published in the November 8, 2019 issue.