Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders courted voters at a packed campaign rally in a South Bronx park Thursday night, billing himself as a reformer who would “create an economy that works for all of us,” while casting his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as beholden to Wall Street.
“This campaign is about telling Wall Street and the billionaire class they cannot, they will not, have it all,” Sanders told an energetic crowd of thousands who packed into St. Mary’s Park in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Mott Haven.
Sanders said 15,000 people were in attendance, though Newsday could not independently confirm that figure.
The rally came as Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, looks to make inroads with minority voters ahead of New York’s April 19 Democratic primary.
Sanders’ celebrity supporters , including actress Rosario Dawson and director Spike Lee, aimed to dispel a widely held belief that Sanders cannot do as well as Clinton with minority voters.
Clinton, formerly secretary of state and before that a senator from New York, leads Sanders 66 percent to 31 percent among black voters in the state, according to a Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday.
Dawson said it’s “not true” that Sanders did not have a diverse group of supporters, pointing to the crowd where several waved Puerto Rican and Brazilian flags.
Lee urged younger supporters to sell Sanders to their parents “because the old generation, they’re on this Clinton thing,” referring to polls showing Sanders supporters skew younger than Clinton’s.
In a nearly hourlong speech, Sanders emphasized that his “campaign is listening to our brothers and sisters in the Latino” and African-American communities, drawing cheers from the crowd when he proposed raising the minimum wage to $15 and called for police departments that reflect “the diversity of the communities they serve.”
Sanders repeated criticisms of Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, urging her to make public the transcripts of paid speeches she previously delivered to Wall Street firms.
Clinton has said she would consider releasing her speeches as long as GOP presidential candidates release theirs.
Sanders’ message of “income inequality” was received well by many in the crowd who hailed from the surrounding area.
“I like that he’s about equality for all and doesn’t seem to discriminate,” said Tashanga Russell, 21, who wandered into the event after picking up her two sons from school.