Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders rally Saturday in Market Square.
Braddock Mayor John Fetterman speaks Saturday in Market Square in support of Mr. Sanders. Mr. Fetterman’s son, Karl, 7, shows his own form of support behind his father.
A Bernie Sanders supporter holds a mask to her face Saturday during a rally in Market Square. Hundreds in Pittsburgh rallied for the Vermont senator.
Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders march through Pittsburgh.
By Chris Potter / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pennsylvania’s primary is still two months away, but at least 750 supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders didn’t wait for a visit from their candidate to hold a march and rally on his behalf Saturday.
“The revolution has begun, we the people get things done” marchers chanted at times during the 3-mile route from Oakland’s Cathedral of Learning to Market Square, Downtown.
There were also repeated chants of “Black Lives Matter” from the mostly white crowd. And because this is Pittsburgh, the streets occasionally echoed with the Steelers-style mantra, “Here we go, Bernie, here we go.”
With a focus on income inequality and the outsize power of Wall Street, the Vermont senator has mounted a surprisingly robust campaign against fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton. And on a day when Mr. Sanders was expected to finish well behind Ms. Clinton in South Carolina’s Democratic primary, Pittsburgh’s march showed that his democratic socialist message has resonance among younger voters especially.
“I think he talks about issues in a more educated way than most of the candidates,” said University of Pittsburgh freshman Alec Stetser. “And I think he’s more genuine than Hillary.”
Mr. Sanders has pledged to provide tuition-free education at public universities, one of the factors attracting voters like Lauren Wilson, an 18-year-old Riverview High School student from Oakmont. Ms. Wilson said she would cast her first-ever vote for Mr. Sanders because of his economic policies and strong stance on women’s health.
She scoffed at an early criticism made by feminist and Clinton-backer Gloria Steinem: that young women were backing Mr. Sanders to meet boys. “We’re not here to meet future political husbands,” Ms. Wilson said.
The number of young people marching “reminds me a bit of the Young Republicans of the 1980s,” said Doug Stadnik, a 54-year-old Monaca resident. “The impact they had carried through for over 30 years, and I think if this generation gets power, they can match that kind of change.”
Lynda Wrenn, a Pittsburgh school board member who is backing Mr. Sanders, said his tuition proposal “would open so much opportunity to families,” and could help schools too. “If college is on the table, you know you should invest in yourself” by taking education seriously.
The crowd heard from a number of speakers at Market Square, where the headliner was Braddock Mayor and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman, who like Mr. Sanders has focused on income inequality.
“If you think inequality is one issue, you don’t get it,” said Mr. Fetterman, who noted he was the only Senate candidate in the country to have endorsed Mr. Sanders. “Inequality is every issue.”
“Together, [Mr. Sanders] and I are going to take on Pennsylvania and bring it back to you all,” he pledged.
Other speakers addressed concerns that included labor issues and the plight of immigrants. Such causes are bound together, said Marcela Anita, a college student from Brazil.
“What we really want is to have the same rights to work” as Americans have, she said. Yet while immigrants were driven to the United States by economic need, she said, “Throughout Latin America, we have paid maternity leave for women. Why can’t you?”
Chris Potter: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2533.
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