Things That Matter

Thousands Of People Gathered At An East LA High School To Show Their Support For Bernie Sanders

The latest stop on the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign trail hit East Los Angeles this past Saturday where a rally was held with efforts to mobilize voters in the predominantly Latino community. An estimated crowd of over 5,200 people showed up to  Woodrow Wilson High School in El Sereno to cheer on the Vermont senator. 

Signs that read “Bernie” and “Unidos con Bernie” could be seen well into the flock of supporters that chanted his name all afternoon. Before Sanders took the stage, supporters were energized by a performance Ozomatli, an East LA-based Latin rock band, who endorsed the senator just like they previously did in 2016. The energy of the crowd hit a peak point when Sanders emerged to take the stage and a booming “Bernie” chant took over the rally. 

Sanders took the stage addressing issues like education reform, leveling inequality and recent hot button issues like gun control. 

“Gun policy in this country, under my administration, will not be determined by the NRA,” Sanders told the crowd. “It will be determined by the American people and the American people want is common-sense gun safety legislation now.”

Bernie Sanders struck a chord with Latinos in California, particularly in East LA, where his campaign team debuted its first California office. As it stands, 34 percent of likely Democratic Latino voters under 30 support Sanders in his presidential run. 

Credit: Javier Rojas / mitú

The economy, healthcare and education are some of the biggest issues to Latino voters and Sanders has made efforts to make those some of his key campaign focal points. His campaign has resonated with more Latino voters in California than any other Democratic candidate. According to a recent poll by Latino Community Foundation, 31 percent of Latino voters would vote for Sanders, beating former Vice President Joe Biden, polling at 22 percent; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, polling at 11 percent, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, polling 9 percent.

When it comes to donating to his campaign, Latino voters have also been there for Sanders. From January to July, the Sanders team brought in an estimated $4.7 million from Latinos through the online fundraising platform ActBlue. His grassroots support from his previous 2016 run has seemed to follow into the 2020 election race with many young voters leading the way. 

“There’s lots of Latinos in California, there’s lots of working-class young people, and working-class voters and lots of folks who have a history of standing up against power,” Chuck Rocha, a senior adviser with the Sanders campaign, told the LA Times. “Bernie Sanders is their candidate, and all we have to do is give them the tools to be reminded of when to vote and where he stands on the issues and they will show up.”

On Saturday, many of those young voters voiced their support for Sanders and his campaign that touched on many vital issues that Latinos say matter to them. 

Credit: Javier Rojas / mitú

Fernando Salas, 19, lives in nearby Boyle Heights and has been a Sanders fan before he could even cast a vote back in 2016. He says that Sanders became popular among him and his friends during high school because of his proposed policies on the environment and tuition-free public college.

“I couldn’t even vote when I first heard of Bernie but I knew he was my guy right away,” Salas says as he holds up a “Viva Bernie” sign. “He cares about issues that my friends and I are talking about so why not Bernie.”

Sanders received loud applause at the rally when raising issues like education reform, canceling student debt, tuition-free public colleges and raising teachers’ wages.

“I will make sure that every teacher in America earns at least $60,000 because I believe in human rights,” Sanders said. “We believe that everybody, regardless of their income and background, has the right to get a higher education.”

If Sanders is going to win the Democratic nomination, he’s going to most likely have to win the Latino vote as well. 

Credit: Javier Rojas / mitú

For years, many political pundits have pointed toward the growing U.S. Latino population as a deciding force when it comes to voting power. This upcoming election will be a test of that power as Latinos are expected to be the largest minority voting group, exceeding Black voters for the first time ever. 

The Sanders campaign has done its work when it comes to winning this ever-important demographic group. Whether its hiring Latino workers as part of his campaign team or putting forth comprehensive immigration plans that address issues like DACA, Sanders has touched on all the right buttons for a large portion of Latino voters.

Salas says at the heart of the Sanders campaign is to help the “little people” in this country and he feels that he can deliver on that. 

“He’s been fighting this fight for many years now and I feel that after 2016, this is his time,” Salas says with hope.

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