On Sunday, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Similar to his 2016 campaign, Sanders called for an end on tax breaks for wealthy corporations and for closing tax loopholes. He also proposed establishing a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour. He was also emphatic about lowering drug costs to make them affordable for everyone and called for free education for people attending public colleges and universities because “good jobs require good education.”
Before a crowd of 12,000 people, the Vermont senator recounted his time as a student at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s. Sanders described it as critical to his political development.
“I learned more off campus than in lecture,” Sanders said. He saw how wars could be started, and he better understood racism and social inequalities.
During his time at UChicago, Sanders participated in a number of protests. In 1963, he protested the city’s decision to put black students in squalid and miserable mobile trailers instead of integrating the school or putting the students in the available 53 classrooms. During this protest, Sanders was arrested for defying police orders not to step beyond a designated boundary.
“My activities at Chicago taught me a very important lesson [...] real change never takes place from the top on down. It always takes place from the bottom on up.”
Sanders’ hour-long address emphasized the need for social and economic equality and for environmental protection. However, Sanders also took the opportunity to vehemently criticize the president and his policies on immigration and the environment.
“[President Trump] is the most dangerous president in modern American history.”
Before speaking, Sanders was introduced by a number of people who attested to his sense of social justice and change.
Photographer Danny Lyon, Sanders’ college friend, remembered the time Sanders held a sit-in protest in the UChicago chancellor’s office. Using this anecdote and others, Lyon sought to paint Sanders as the tenacious champion of equality.
“Bernie believed that all men are created equal, and he still believes it.”
Also present to support Sanders with an ice cream pun filled introduction was Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Ben Cohen who gladly gave up the title as “the most popular guy from Vermont.”
Further describing Sanders’ popularity, Cohen concluded that “[Sanders] doesn’t go with the trends. He starts the trends [...] He’s already leading the country.”
Not everyone present at the rally was there to support the campaign. Before entering the venue, some individuals were distributing leaflets claiming that supporters were “getting played by Bernie Sanders” and that Sanders was “[p]romising a larger share of the spoils of American capitalism-imperialism and getting [his supporters] to go along with Democratic party war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
Based on the volume of cheers and number of applause breaks, Sanders’ Chicago rally could be considered a success. The great majority of people seemed enthusiastic about the candidate’s proposed changes and took to Sanders’ final criticism of the GOP and far-right groups.
“We have something they’ll never have,” Sanders boomed, “a united people.”