Photos: 11,000+ fans turn out for Bernie Sanders rally in Portland

Even though Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is trailing behind Hilary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primaries, one word could be used to describe his rally in Portland on March 25: optimistic. Sanders fans of all ages arrived at the Moda Center as early as four in the morning to hear him speak for the second time in Portland during this election cycle.

After waiting hours in the foggy, cold Portland weather, supporters gathered in the Moda to hear the Dandy Warhols’ keyboardist Zia McCabe welcome Sanders to Portland. An upbeat performance from Portland-based indie group the Thermals (you can tell there was a musical theme) warmed up the crowd before Sanders finally came on stage after a delay.

  • Sanders supporters wait in line outside of the Moda Center in hopes of getting a seat. An estimated 11,500 people attended the event, which was down from the estimated 28,000 who showed up to his rally last year on Aug. 10. (Hannah Steinkopf-Frank/Emerald).

He gave a simple, but pointed speech highlighting his campaign’s key issues, namely a rigged economy in favor of the ultra-wealthy, the lack of proper mental health care in the country, raising the national minimum wage, the disproportionate number of incarcerated minorities and Hillary Clinton’s reluctance to release the transcripts for high-price-tag speeches for Wall St.

“I am prepared to release the transcripts of all the speeches I gave on Wall Street,” he offered. Then added, “There are no speeches I gave on Wall Street.”

Even though he might have lost some of the fiery ardor after casually dropping “Ore-gahn,” the Vermont Senator’s anti-corruption and middle class-focused platform resonated with the crowd. In a very Portlandia moment, a bird landed on Sanders’ podium in the middle of the speech (within minutes #BirdieSanders soon started trending). The audience and Sanders paused, before he made a metaphor referring to the bird as a symbol of world peace.

But in his no-nonsense style, Sanders ended by bringing the crowd back to reality. He practically walked them through how to register for the following day’s caucus in Washington. With David Bowie’s “Starman” booming throughout the arena, Sanders quickly greeted supporters before heading to another rally in Seattle. It was rather unceremonious, but for many audience members, it was more about being in a room of people fired up by Sanders presence than what he had to say.

“I already know what his platform is,” said attendee Elizabeth Price. “I’m not here to hear anything new. I’m just here to be part of the movement.”

Photos and story by Emerald contributor Hannah Steinkopf-Frank.

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Emerson Malone

Emerson Malone

Podcast producer with The Daily Emerald and student research fellow with the UO-UNESCO Crossings Institute.