March 23, 2016 (San Diego) The atmosphere inside the Convention Center was electric. People filed in, excited to enter, and hear the Senator, as he was slated to speak at 8:00. He came out about 8:20. The crowd was representative of California. There were Whites, Latinos, immigrants, African Americans, American Muslims that we could identify. The crowd was extremely varied.
But before we go into that part of the story, we spent three hours walking the line. It was a line that wrapped around the small island behind the convention center. We stated at the beginning.
The Henkins, a husband and wife, came from Bonita, in San Diego County. They were some of the first to stand in line for the event. Paul Henkin told Reporting San Diego that they came that early to the rally, because “we want Bernie Sanders to be the President” They also added that they came with two of their children, a 3 year and a 7 year old.
Paul specifically talked about foreign policy, and how Sanders won the Americans abroad caucus. He explained that He is sure that “They don’t want to see American troops in Iraq.” Both were also concerned about education and the cost of it. They agreed that his plans regarding education are solid.
Chelsea Roche, a nurse, stood online further down. We talked about Sander’s stand on veterans. She got late, but a friend of hers had been in line since 11 in the morning. The event was slated to start at 8 at night. Roche was originally from Orange County but currently is a resident of San Diego County.
Regarding veterans Roche said “I feel we are very pro war, and not what happens post war.” She added, “if you make the commitment of sending people who are electing to join the services to go to war, we need to take care of them when they come home as well.”
Roche added that we need a more efficient Veterans Administration. She is a nurse and she also agrees with Sanders that we need single payer health care in the country. Other countries do it, and it is time for the United States to do it as well. She also agrees on the stand on free public education.
Vi Wright is a law student at the University of San Diego School of Law. She is also an African American millennial. We talked about the criminal law stand from Senator Sanders. Like we asked other people, and she was down the line quite a way, by Door B, she made it by 2:30.
Sanders was attractive to her, due to his consistency. “He has always staid true to his word.” She added, “he is not just a politician doing this to gain favor from big businesses.”
We talked about criminal justice reform, which is part of the agenda. Wright said that Sanders understands “that there are many factors including socio economic status and people’s background that goes into whether or not they become a criminal, and how the criminal justice system treats them. I feel that he has been very open and hands on and he will take the best approach for not only doing what is best for them, but rehabilitating them.”
We also talked about corporate law, and Wright was clear that she also believed that Sanders “is the man for the job, He is not in the pockets of big business.” She expects him to tax them. She is concerned about the middle class. She is also a student at a private college, but agrees on Sander’s position on free college at public universities and colleges. We need to join the rest of the world in that regard.
As I walked down the line I found people who came from Murrieta, Orange County, Los Angeles, and yes one person who came from Maine. The last one, he was in San Diego, but decided to come to the rally anyway.
Midway through the long line we also talked with Luis Ortiz-Franco and his wife Judy. Luis came to the United States from Mexico, and with his wife worked with Cesar Chavez to organize field hands. They both agreed that civil rights are very important. For Judy, it is also about income inequality and how that has gone up. She also commented that Sanders was slightly older than her, but never gave up on the ideals of that long ago era.
Before the rally San Diego President of the National Action Network, Reverend Shane Harris, met with the Senator in a private meeting. After wards the executive committee had a photo taken with the Senator and presidential hopeful. Christopher and Kim Garnier were also part of the photo. They have been fighting the Poway School district over minority issues.
Harris talked with the Senator about affirmative action, minority issues, criminal justice reform and young voters. Harris told Reporting San Diego that it was an honor to meet the Senator.
People started to file in at five. Some went straight for the concession since they had been standing outside for ours. Some of the attendees brought food and water to the line. The hall started to fill. People held signs and were excited. It was electric inside the hall. As the hour got closer, screams of “si se puede” “Bernie” and “I believe that we will win” broke. People started to throw balloons across the crowd, partly in an effort to kill the time. You could feel the excitement in the air.
At around 8:00, and after CNN declared Arizona for both Donald J Trump and Hillary Clinton, and boos filled the hall, Rosario Dawwon, came to the state to introduce the Senator. She is a veteran of the Black Lives Matter movement, and she gave a fiery speech.
Dawson started by reminding people that “mass media said don’t even bother.” She added there is much at stake, and reminded the crowed that she started in political life by doing voter registration for 11 years.
Dawson added, that “people are coming together for a future that we all can really believe in.” She added, this election is “for the soul of our country.” Moreover, she noted the country needs bold leadership.
“If Bernie dies not take it all they way. If we do not make sure we take it all the way, there will be pushback.” Moreover, she pointed to the pushback of grassroots organizing, which is an objective. Dawson added that there youth (the crowd was full of millennial), has been on the right side of history. They are on the right side of history.
Finally Senator Bernie Sanders came to the stage. It was a raucous entry with people screaming “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie.” At his side came his wife Jane Sanders. The three held hands raised them above them and then both Jane and Dawson left the stage.
Sanders also addressed the Western elections, this way: “”When we began this campaign we talked about a need for millions of people to become involved in the political process,” Sanders added. “Tonight in Utah, tonight in Idaho, and tonight in Arizona there are record-breaking turnouts.”
He also spoke on usual themes we are used to hearing from him, regarding income inequality, Sanders said “this campaign is about creating an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.”
“It is not just a corrupt campaign finance system that we are going to change… it is also a broken criminal justice system.“ He added “it is not acceptable that we have more people than any other country in jail.” He added “this campaign is about ending the militarization of local police departments.” He also added that it is time for police departments to reflect the diversity of the communities they serve. He also said it is time to rethink the war on drugs.
He called for the legalization of marijuana. He noted that it is a schedule one drug. “That is nuts.” He has introduced legislation to remove it from the schedule. This was received with screams of “Bernie” by a very enthusiastic crowed.
Because of the attack on Brussels the Senator addressed the war with Daesh, by speaking to both the vote in Iraq, but also that this war should be led by a Muslim coalition. It is a war for the soul of Islam.
We are including the full audio of the speech. Our apologies since we did capture some side conversations. This was not intended.