Bernie Sanders is still campaigning despite hostility from some pundits who want him to step aside so they can coronate Hillary Clinton as the Democratic candidate for President at the Democratic National Convention.
On Memorial Day, Sanders held a rally at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, California – and his supporters showed up by the thousands. ABC News estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 people attended the rally. Some other sources, possibly including the Oakland Police Department, estimated that 60,000 people attended. In any case, there were lines of people several blocks long waiting to get in. The numbers were particularly impressive given that the Golden State Warriors, which are based in Oakland, were then playing their seventh game in the NBA playoffs. In other words, people attended the rally instead of watching a basketball game featuring the home team. That’s dedication. Similarly, the hashtag #BernieInOakland gained 30,000 tweets and became a trending topic on Twitter within only a few hours.
At the rally, Sanders spoke about his usual themes: getting money out of politics, mitigating climate change, making public colleges free, and providing universal healthcare.
While Sanders’ supporters were peaceful and behaved themselves, members of an animal rights group stormed the stage while bearing signs that read “Animal Rights Is Social Justice” and “Animal Liberation Now.” Members of the Secret Service quickly subdued and arrested those members that had gone over the barricade. Ironically, the Humane Society Legislative Fund had given Sanders a 100% approval rating. The Fund is a highly respected animal rights organization that works on passing animal protection laws at both the federal and state level.
To the annoyance of many Twitter users, the animal rights protestors drew more attention from the conventional media than did the sizable and peaceful rally.
After the rally, Sanders went to watch the Golden State Warriors/Oakland Thunder game himself. He got there just after halftime, and he watched the Warriors win by eight points. Before his arrival, they had been six points behind.
Before the rally, Sanders had made an unannounced stop at the Memorial Day ceremony in the Presidio. According to his campaign staff, Sanders always attends at least one Memorial Day event. While at the ceremony, Sanders answered only one question about politics. When asked about his chances, he responded that he believed he had a good chance to win California. He also joined the Memorial Day parade. Later, veterans at the service expressed appreciation that Sanders had not campaigned at the service. US Marine Michael Mackin commented,
“Instead of a day of politics, it was a day of remembrance and I thought that was good.”
The San Francisco National Cemetery holds one of the largest Memorial Day ceremonies in the US. This year, there were special tributes to Korean War veterans and the historic Buffalo Soldiers, who had been African-American soldiers from the 1860s to World War I.
The California primary takes place on June 7, and, if Oakland is any indication, Sanders will be at least competitive. He has so far won 1500 delegates, while Clinton has won 1770. Sanders will continue campaigning in the Bay Area. On May 31, he will hold a press conference on health care in Emeryville and hold more rallies in Monterey and Santa Cruz.