Thousands on South Side ‘see ... feel ... hear the Bern’ as Sanders brings campaign to Chicago

SHARE Thousands on South Side ‘see ... feel ... hear the Bern’ as Sanders brings campaign to Chicago

They hailed him as a modern-day Robin Hood. A revolutionary. A man old enough to be their grandfather, but the only presidential candidate in tune with their concerns.

“Between him and Hillary, he’s the most honest, upfront, principled choice,” said Andrew Fishel, 24, a graphic designer from Lincoln Park. “And everyone on the right is some kind of maniac, so that’s out.”

Democrat Bernie Sanders came to the South Side Thursday night, and the near capacity crowd of 7,000 packed into an auditorium at Chicago State University was clearly “feeling the Bern.”

“I see. I feel. I hear the Bern,”Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said before the Vermont senator took the stage.

Sanders, 74, made a statement in the people the presidential hopeful chose to introduce him before he took the stage at Chicago State University.

Besides Garcia, whose failed mayoral bid had Sander’s backing, they included Jonathan Jackson, who works as a professor at Chicago State and is the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom Sanders endorsed for president twice in the 80s.

Ja’Mal Green, the leader of a youth movement seeking the ouster of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, also spoke.

Green said Sanders stood for a society in which “16 shots is not followed by a cover-up,” referring to the number of times Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot teenager Laquan McDonald. Van Dyke has since been charged in the murder.

Speaking at a university with a student body that is more than 75 percent black, Sanders was obviously trying to cut into Hillary Clinton’s support among African Americans.Sanders said he is listening when the black community asks: “How does it happen that unarmed African Americans are being shot and killed by police departments?”

“We’re living with a broken criminal justice system, which has more people in jail than any other country on earth — largely African American and Latino,” Sanders said before a young diverse audience of several thousand who gathered in the school’s Emil & Patricia Jones Convocation Center at 9501 S. King Drive.

The Democratic presidential hopeful who supports tuition-free higher education was greeted as a hero at Chicago State, a university teetering on the brink of financial ruin as a budget impasse in Springfield puts a stranglehold on its funding.

Highlighting their dire situation is the fact that Chicago State students — worried the school might go broke — are skipping spring break in a rush to get their degrees.

“Where are our priorities?” Sanders asked about Chicago State’s dire straits.

Supporters came from all over the area.

“I’m looking for that free tuition,” said Tarrence Heard, 31, who’s enrolling at Columbia College. “I could go for that.”

One supporter waved a sign depicting Sanders, whose campaign aims to upend income inequality, as Robin Hood.

Sanders also received hero’s welcome in September when he called for a political “revolution” at a rally at the University of Chicago, his alma mater, where he called fora national $15 minimum wage and publicly financed elections to negate the influence of wealthy donors.

Sanders will face Illinois native Hillary Clinton in the state’sMarch 15primary election. The all important “SuperTuesday” primaries and caucuses will take place two weeks earlier, onMarch 1, when a dozen states will head to the polls.

After leaving Chicago, Sanders was scheduled to head to Minnesota to speak at a high school.

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