- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held their first 2020 campaign rally together on Saturday, drawing a diverse crowd of over 25,000 to Long Island City, Queens.
- Ocasio-Cortez used the occasion to officially endorse Sanders for president.
- Scroll down to see photos of the event.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
QUEENS, NY – Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez held their first 2020 campaign rally on Saturday, drawing a diverse crowd of over 25,000 to Long Island City, Queens.
Ocasio-Cortez used the occasion to officially endorse Sanders for president.
“It wasn’t until I heard of a man by the name of Bernie Sanders that I began to question, and assert, and recognise my inherent value as a human being that deserves healthcare, housing, education, and a living wage,” the 30-year-old lawmaker said during her speech.
It was a warm and sunny in Queensbridge Park, where the two native New Yorkers were joined by a host of local progressive politicians in a stage in the middle of Queensbridge Park, just outside Ocasio-Cortez’s district.
Here’s how the event unfolded.
Rally attendees streamed through the streets of Long Island City from the subway.
The rally took place in park right along the Hudson River and just below the Queensboro Bridge.
More than 25,000 people attended the rally on a sunny, 60-degree afternoon.
Sanders’ wife, Jane, kicked off the event. “I”m here to tell you Bernie’s back,” she said to cheers.
Filmmaker Michael Moore gave a speech. “The only heart attack we should be talking about is the one Wall Street’s going to have when Bernie is president,” he said to huge cheers.
The Democratic Socialists of New York came out to support Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, both self-described democratic socialists.
Nina Turner, co-chair of Sanders’ campaign, got the crowd fired up.
“There are people who didn’t have the same guts and the same courage as Sen. Bernie Sanders to run in 2016,” Turner said. “There was only one person who stood up to the establishment and his name was Bernard Sanders.”
A host of progressive local New York lawmakers made an appearance at the rally.
The rally featured thousands of bright blue “Bernie” signs.
A handful of Trump supporters protested outside the event. Some flew a massive Trump 2020 flag from the Queensboro Bridge.
One rally-goer held a sign with Sanders’ slogan: “Not me. Us.”
Tiffany Cabán, a Queens public defender and former candidate for Queens District Attorney, introduced Ocasio-Cortez.
Ocasio-Cortez took the stage to chants of “AOC!”
Ocasio-Cortez began with a joke about conservative media coverage of her recent salon visit. “You all like my haircut? It got a lot of attention last week,” she said.
Ocasio-Cortez said she was inspired by Sanders to get into politics during his 2016 primary campaign.
“The only reason I had any hope in launching a long-shot campaign for Congress is because Bernie Sanders proved that you can run a grassroots campaign and win,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“The halls of Congress are no joke… Behind closed doors, your arm is twisted .. political pressure gets put on you and every trick in the book, psychological and otherwise, is used to get us to abandon the working class,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“I have grown to appreciate the enormous, consistent, and nonstop advocacy of Sen. Bernie Sanders,” she went on.
The rally focused heavily on economic and racial justice issues.
Then Sanders took the stage. “To put it bluntly, I am back,” Sanders told the crowd in a big applause line.
“It is hard to believe the degree to which she has transformed politics in America,” Sanders said of Ocasio-Cortez.
One rally attendee wore an Andrew Yang campaign hat.
“Look around and find somebody who doesn’t look like you,” Sanders said. “My question is are you willing to fight for that person you don’t even know as you are to fight for yourself?”
Sanders promised to create “up to 15 million good-paying jobs rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure” as part of a federal jobs guarantee.
The rally focused heavily on uplifting working class Americans.
Sanders quoted Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
“Jobs and education, not jails and incarceration,” Sanders said.
The crowd overflowed onto the street outside the event.
Sanders called the American healthcare system the “most dysfunctional and cruel healthcare system in the world.”
People yelled intermittently, “Bernie’s back!”
Alethea Shapiro, a 40-year-old mum of four from Long Island, and her daughter, Hailey, told Business Insider the rally may just change their minds on which candidate they support. “I’m actually for Warren but after hearing Bernie speak I have a lot of soul-searching and thinking to do.”
Naila Siddiqui, 40-year-old public defender in Brooklyn, supported Bernie in 2016 primary. “The line between rich and poor is so great right now that the direction that the status quo is going is hurting working class people.”
Noyan Darici, a 24-year-old who works in legal services, said he would be “very happy with either” Warren or Sanders. “Too many people in this country are victims of circumstance,” he said.
Murray Elias, a 66-year-old who works in the music industry said AOC’s endorsement “shows that this is not just a movement of… Bernie bros. It’s a lot more diverse than Hillary Clinton liked to paint it in 2016 and it’s even more diverse now.”
Mara Pusic, a 17-year-old high school senior from northern New Jersey, will vote for the first time ever in 2020 Democratic primary. “I just fundamentally believe in Sanders’ campaign… Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, medical debt cancellation, student debt cancellation.”
Irene Ippolito, a 57-year-old teacher from Valley Stream, New York, has supported Sanders since 2016. “I think [the AOC endorsement] speaks to her sincerity, that as a young politician she’s not doing what’s safe, but she’s doing what she feels in her heart.”
Anthony Buono, a 20-year-old junior at Boston University originally from Long Island, is a member of the Young Democratic Socialists of America and a volunteer for Sanders. He thinks Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement was “obvious… I think she needed to endorse Bernie, it’s where she got her start.”
Sue Narine, a substitute teacher from Queens in her 50s, said Sanders’ health issues are “a little bit of a concern,” but not enough to change her vote. “Every single day there’s a lot of uncertainty and Bernie’s been stable,” she said.
A police presence and pro-Trump protesters met rally-goers outside the event.
Many attendees have supported Sanders since his 2016 presidential bid.
One attendee even had a Sanders doll peeking out of their bag.
Sanders left the event with his campaign manager, Faiz Shakir (right).
Some attendees had pins featuring Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, both of whom have officially endorsed Sanders.
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