By Gabriela Laracca
Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders held a rally at the Santander Performing Arts Center in Reading, Pa. on April 21 in preparation for the primary on April 26.
The line for entry spanned several blocks until the doors finally opened at 2 p.m. for seating. Some claimed to have been waiting since 6 a.m. for seating.
Sanders spoke on issues including raising the minimum wage, foreign trade policies, investing in public education, rebuilding infrastructure, ending mass incarceration, creating jobs, gender-based pay equality, environmental preservation and running grassroots campaign.
Sanders emphasized the importance he places on honesty, both in funding and in promises. “This campaign is doing something very radical. We are telling the truth,” said Sanders.
The senator also spoke about the Berks County Family Detention Center located in Leesport, Pennsylvania – a topic that was of great interest to the audience.
The senator preceded by several speakers before him, cheers from the audience and chants from supporters on stage yelling “Bernie Sanders’ got our backs, we don’t need no
“The government should not be in the painful and inhumane business of locking up families who have fled unspeakable violence in Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and other countries throughout the world,” said Sanders. “It is time to shut down the Berks County Family Detention Center.”
“Bernie is a genuine man. He wants to make things right and he’s honest. He cares about the American people and his policies, like universal health care, are what we need,” said Kimberly Waters, 48.
One of the opening speakers was Rainy Leonor an undocumented student who works three jobs, pays taxes, but like many other undocumented students in the United States, does not receive government aid. She explained that because her education was so costly, she had to choose between her home and her schooling.
According to Leonor, she cannot vote but she supports Sanders for being the only candidate who seeks change for immigrants. “I believe he is revolutionizing politics. He has the same ideals since he was an activist in the streets and all throughout his political career,” said Leonor. “He has consistency and that’s what we need. We don’t need flip-flopping stories, different promises and nothing.”
“I’m glad to know there are still real politicians who care about us, who speak for us, who fight for us,” said Larissa Kiln, 21.