The energy at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was electric from the start. Waiting for Bernie Sanders, audience members waved handmade signs, cheered, and posed for countless selfies long before anyone walked on stage.
The crowd greeted each of the four opening speakers—who praised Sanders’ positions on immigration, health care, labor and the environment—with loud cheers, and roared appreciatively for comedian Sarah Silverman, who made a surprise appearance to endorse and introduce the man of the hour.
When the junior senator from Vermont finally took the stage in a button-down shirt with rolled-up sleeves and his wife Jane Sanders at his side, the noise finally hit deafening on the dial. Sanders himself appeared fired up, though his voice was horse after days of campaigning.
“Los Angeles, thank you for being here,” said Sanders. “We began this campaign about three-and-a-half months ago, and the momentum, as you can see tonight, has been extraordinary. All over the country we have had fantastic turnouts. … And tonight, with the overflow crowd, we have more than 27,000 people.”
Prior to his visit to L.A., the Senator made stops in many major cities, including Seattle, Washington, where controversy arose when protestors representing the Black Lives Matter movement attempted to highlight racism among white liberals by preventing Sanders from speaking during a rally.
There was no such interruption on Monday night, though the Sander’s campaign made a point to address issues of racial inequality and injustice early and often. Newly appointed national press secretary Symone Sanders started off the rally by reminding the audience of the one-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The senator followed up by promising there is “no president that will fight harder to end institutional racism.”
Sanders addressed a wide range of issues during his address, including job creation, immigration, reproductive rights, gay marriage, climate change and trade agreements, returning frequently to the importance of unity.
“We don’t have the money, but when people stand together there is nothing we can’t accomplish,” he said. “What this campaign is about is bringing people together. Black and white; straight and gay; men and women; native-born and immigrant. When we stand together, when we do not allow our opponents to break us up and divide us, when we stand united, we can create a new America.”
After the event, we asked a few Bernie supporters to share their takes:
Lucia Aguilar Cole, Antonia Aguilar Cole, and Gwendolyn Ozols-Remmetter
CAME FROM: Loz Feliz (Lucia and Antonia) and Mid-City (Gwendolyn)
“Our friends were definitely very Hillary-supporting, and so we were like, ‘Maybe we should give him a chance and see what he has to say,’” said Antonia.
CAME FROM: San Pedro
Lackner said the issues that are most important to him include renewable energy sources, high rates of Black unemployment, and overturning Citizens United.
Susan Holden and Aitama Cantu
CAME FROM: Culver City (Aitama) and Temecula (Susan)
“I came because my son and his girlfriend were coming,” said Susan.
“I guess ’cause I’m starting college in six days free college is a huge issue, even though I’m not going to a public school. Also women’s rights—abortion and everything,” said Aitama.