By Caroline Kenny
Despite four-hour lines and thousands of supporters being turned away, the Bernie Sanders rally on Monday night was a much more peaceful event than a Donald Trump rally that shook Chicago on Friday night.
Speaking at the Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre in the Loop just eight hours before polls opened, Sanders invoked messages of a political revolution and distaste for the violence occurring in Chicago. However, his rally remained peaceful as supporters raised two-fingered peace signs toward the stage and linked arms to sing folk songs. This comes just three days after a rally for Republican frontrunner Trump was cancelled due to mass protest across town at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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“Before I get started, I’d like to say to Donald Trump,” said Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP, who introduced Sanders, “This is what a rally in Chicago looks like.”
When Sanders walked on stage, one of the first things he did was condemn the gun violence that is so prevalent in the city. In fact, just minutes before Sanders arrived in Chicago, three city police officers were shot on the West Side.
“Tonight, as I understand it, three police officers were shot,” Sanders said. “We have got to come together and end this outrageous level of violence.”
Saying he was glad he did not receive Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s endorsement, Sanders condemned the mayor’s leadership and the closing of public schools in minority neighborhoods.
“We are in a moment in history where we need fundamental change,” Sanders said. “It is not acceptable that schools in Chicago get shut down while we give tax breaks to billionaires.”
Emanuel endorsed Sanders’ opponent, Hillary Clinton, a move analysts say could hurt her prospects in her home state. Sanders was endorsed by Cook County commissioner Chuy Garcia, who faced off against Emanuel in a 2015 mayoral runoff.
Recent polls show the race in Illinois between Clinton and Sanders is extremely tight. A March 12 Public Policy Polling poll shows Clinton with a three-point lead, while a CBS News/YouGov poll from March 11 shows Sanders ahead by two.
Sanders took time to define his stances as starkly different from those of Clinton and to discredit her views on issues important to his campaign, such as trade deals and affiliation to Wall Street.
He also, once again, urged Clinton to release transcripts of her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, made behind closed doors.
About 4,000 people attended Monday night, but thousands more waited outside on Wabash Avenue after they were denied entry due to capacity. No protesters were in attendance, and the evening stayed calm and peaceful.