By Dominique Redfearn
A line stretched several blocks around the Riverside Municipal Auditorium filled with Bernie Sanders supporters and undecided voters in efforts to have the chance to see the Democratic presidential hopeful speak May 24.
The venue was packed to capacity with spectators curious to see what Sanders was really about.
“I want to see what kind of man he is in person,” said George Vasquez, Riverside City College student. “He seems like an innovator for the people to me,”
Others were sure of their decision of Sanders over fellow Democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton.
“Bernie is clear cut and honest, but Hillary flip-flops so much. I don’t know what she stands for,” RCC student Julian Janeway said.
Rock music filled the venue before actor Kendrick Sampson took the stage to state his reasons for supporting Sanders.
“I love his message,” said Sampson. “He’s always taking the position of humility, fighting for all of us from the ground level as an activist first. That’s what sets him apart from other politicians, is that he was an activist first.”
Sampson then went on to list Sanders’ accomplishments such as his time walking with Martin Luther King Jr., fighting against segregation in schools, taking a stand for Palestinian people and his respect for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
“I can’t wait to bring this revolutionary truth telling activist, who’s going to bring activism to the White House. We can’t blame it on the government if we don’t go out there to make our voices heard,” said Sampson. “Bernie Sanders is the presidential candidate that we have been waiting for.”
Sampson finished his introduction by stating that Sanders’ hopes of equality and reform for issues like immigration and health care “are not radical things, these are human rights.”
Sanders embraced Sampson as he appeared on stage and quickly started his nearly hour long speech with a story about his morning visiting a coffee shop.“A young man, as he poured the coffee … almost with tears in his eyes (said) thank you for what you’re doing because I am buried in student debt,” Sanders said.
He then went on to a broad range of topics like his recent visit to an Indian reservation, the people he has met that have spoken to him about how they are struggling with the current working wages, his hopes to demilitarize the police, and the need for immigration and health care reform.
He placed emphasis on taking marijuana off of the Schedule I list of drugs, which lists it as dangerous as heroin. Sanders said that drugs aren’t an issue that should be handled with jail time, but with proper mental health care.
Sanders also discussed other issues like raising the amount of money that people receive from social security checks, the wage gap and how women should have the rights to control their own health care.
Sanders later compared the traditional Republican family values with his image of family values. Other countries give better time off of work to spend with their newborns while the average in the United States is around three weeks. He would raise the standard to three months.
He asked the audience to think “outside of the box, outside of the status quo” and to challenge Congress.
“Reality is not just what you see in corporate media … The only people that can determine that reality is you,” Sanders said.