Saturday, April 9, 2016

BERNIE'S PEOPLE: Bernie Sanders in the Bronx

On March 31, 2016, Bernie Sanders brought his campaign for the Presidency to Saint Mary's Park in the South Bronx. I present the following photographs (97 in all) as a visual document the event, and I encourage you to scan them simply as that, or as my title suggests, as portraits of "Bernie's People." For anyone who wants more, I also offer occasional commentary and links to other, relevant sources.

Access to the event in the Park didn't open up until ca. 4:30 pm. These first few photographs were taken at about 2:00, when I arrived. Already, a line of people snaked all the way up St. Mary's Street and around the corner, offering a soft, amorphous boundary to the usually clear, hard outer edge of the Park.




Waiting for Bernie I, St. Mary's Street, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Waiting for Bernie II, St. Mary's Street, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Waiting for Bernie III, Edge of St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

St. Mary's Park, at 35-acres, is the largest park in the South Bronx. It originally was part of the 17th century estate of Jonas Bronck, for whom this Borough is named.  In the mid-19th century, the area was owned by iron worker Adrian Janes, whose foundry cast the parts for the bridges of Central Park and the dome of the U. S. Capitol.




Waiting for Bernie IV, St. Mary's Street, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Hours later, inside the Park, I talked to the gentlemen wearing the beret in the above photo.  A strong Bernie fan, he stated emphatically that, were Bernie to lose, he would not vote for Hillary.  My pragmatic assurances that either candidate would make a capable leader for America held no sway.

A recent McClatchy-Marist poll shows that 25% of Sanders backers would not support Clinton, were she to be the Democratic candidate.  However, take heart: eight years ago a Gallup poll had 28% of Clinton supporters insisting they would vote for McCain over Obama, so those of us with a distinct liberal leaning can assuage our worries somewhat by applying this bit of historical balm.





Lining Up for Bernie: Spread Love, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This sign, of course, is a reference to the different emotional "vibes to be found at rallies for Sanders and Trump. It also references a statement Sanders made in February that  “we will defeat Mr. Trump because the American people understand and always have that love trumps hatred.” 

But then, love flows both ways, and there is no doubt about the love for Bernie shown by millennials:  Bernie outpolls Hillary among millennials by about 85-15%; as Kevin Drum observed, "Santa Claus would have a hard time pulling numbers like that against the Grinch."




Lining Up for Bernie: Buttoning-up, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Mr. Big, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Love not Hate, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Jedi Warrior, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Take notice of all these happy faces, even though they have been waiting for over two hours in these "cattle chutes" set up inside the Park entrance to contain the crowd. Never did I see a single sour face; nor did I hear anyone grumble, even as a few people occasionally pushed past us to gain line advantage. The group, as one, always seemed to tacitly give those few people the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind, this is New York, a city where a line-jumper never gets a free pass!

I'm not sure when the connection between Bernie and a Jedi Warrior first emerged (I refer to the blue T-shirt above), but Danny DeVito said as much in his endorsement of Bernie.




Lining Up for Bernie: Saving Earth, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Save the Environment, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

In contrast to all the Republican Presidential candidates, who still seem to be in denial about the ecological dangers facing our earth, Bernie Sanders clearly states: "Climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet. The debate is over, and the scientific jury is in." 




Lining Up for Bernie: Man with Oakleys, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: Man in Cap, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

The demographic profile of Sanders supporters is weighted towards those under the age of forty-five; yet, there were also plenty of older people in attendance, both men and women, even if the polls say that seniors favor Hillary by a 3:1 margin.

Reporter Ross Barkan captured both the tone and make-up of this event with the following comparison:   "Unlike the more staid Clinton rallies—even her jazzier trip to Harlem lacked the carnival atmosphere of tonight—the crowd at Mr. Sanders’ Bronx debut was younger, more ebullient and plenty hipster-flavored, as if many were on their way to see Bernie-approved bands like Vampire Weekend or TV on the Radio.  And it wasn’t all white or male; women rivaled men, and minorities turned out in significant force."




Lining Up for Bernie: Feminist Boomer, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

As Gail Sheehy observed in December, to her surprise, feminist boomers are far from sold on Hillary Clinton.  Times, it seems, have changed since Clinton's last run for the Presidency.




Lining Up for Bernie: Join the Revolution, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

What is the "Revolution?"  It's a national, single-payer health care system;  it's free public higher education;  it's the need to preserve Social Security;  it's caring properly for our veterans;  it's recognizing and combatting climate change;  it's reforming Wall Street and seeking ways to rebalance income inequality;  and it's much more.




Lining Up for Bernie: Ersatz Barack, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Lining Up for Bernie: The Cattle Chutes, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Once through the metal detectors, I could look back at the foreground "cattle chutes" and the ever-expanding line of people snaking  back up St. Mary's Street, part of over 18,500 who attended Bernie Sanders' Bronx Rally.




Assembling for Bernie: General View, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Finally, here is the day's destination, the final place of assembly. The podium where Bernie eventually will address the crowd is just to the right of that tree.  

The building with a tall cupola in the background is PS 277, designed in 1897 by architect Charles B. J. Snyder, who envisioned his school buildings as civic monuments for a better society--a fitting background against which Bernie will present his ideas of social change and justice.




Assembling for Bernie: Secret Service, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Young Father, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This, and most of the rest of the photographs, will reveal the racial diversity of Sanders supporters, and so put a lie to the false, "Bernie so white" narrative.




Assembling for Bernie: Mitsu, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Puertorriqueña, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Puerto Ricans for Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Bernie Sanders agrees that the United States has an obligation to help Puerto Rico with its financial crisis and allow it to restructure its debt.  There's little doubt that Puerto Ricans will be supporting Bernie.




Assembling for Bernie: College Supporter, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Woman with an Afro, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Profile, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Hoodie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Mychal, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Martine, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Amy, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Tammy, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Young Girl, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Playing Horsey-honey, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man with Hacky Sack, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Amish Hat, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Woman with Blanket, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Let Us Do It, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This sign refers to two separate issues. One is about Hillary Clinton's argument that Bernie Sanders is an idealist whose agenda is too ambitious to ever get done.  On this, Sam Frizzell calls Hillary's criticisms "so many strands of wet spaghetti, as she looks for something that sticks to quell his populist revolt." 

The other issue refers to the early March CNN debate, when Hillary interrupted Bernie, who then admonished her for doing so. This set off a Twitter-tempest-in-a-teapot, because, in the context of the Republican debates, a mere interruption might be a sign of respectful behavior.  However, in the Democratic debates (where I have marveled at how often Bernie patiently waited for Hillary to finish her statements), his (unexpected, but justifiable) impatience with her interruption quickly took on sexist implications.

I guess this is what happens when the candidates of one party set the bar so high with their adult behavior that the media becomes desperate to create conflict.





Assembling for Bernie: Not Me, Us, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Bernie's manner is not to assert himself over others, and I think the clearest example of this was in early August of 2015 in Seattle, when Sanders stepped back to allow two Black Lives Matter activists to take over his position at the lectern. This was a graceful act of respect for others. Those activists were the "us." Bernie, as the "me," made room for them.

Bernie's respect for the "US" is one of his great strengths, even if Donald Trump has no ability to understand why this might be. It has enabled many women to view Bernie as a "better feminist" than Hillary, because, in the words of well-known activist Dudley Dudley, "It's not about gender...it's about empathy."




Assembling for Bernie:Athena, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Sanders T-Shirt, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Another reporter interviewed this young man, Oscar Salazar, whom he quoted as saying that Sanders has "been on the right side of history, his whole life."  Salazar also observed that “A lot of people think it’s just white people supporting him, but every person I know, Hispanic, white, Black, are representing Bernie all the way."





Assembling for Bernie: Rebecca & Jessica, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

I guess I would call the combined statement of Rebecca and Jessica, seen above, The Inner Woman for Bernie

Bernie Sanders has come out strongly in support of "reproductive justice."   He has a lifetime pro-choice record.  And some have called his candidacy "the best on women's issues."




Assembling for Bernie: Man in Ascot Hat, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Service Dog for Sanders, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: I Only look Illegal, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Bernie Sanders believes in providing immigrants a path to citizenship, he believes in the Dream Act, and he has fought to end the exploitation of undocumented workers.




Assembling for Bernie: Stars & Stripes, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Here we see the stars and stripes turned into a pair of overalls and a supporter on the left, wrapped in the Brazilian flag.




Assembling for Bernie: Never..., St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This woman's tattoo shows birds flanking the words, "Never Is a Promise." The birds were meant as a reference to Bernie (see directly below).  The words, however, are quite likely taken from Fiona Apple's song of the same title, which ends: 


But never is a promise
And I'll never need a lie

 

Assembling for Bernie: Pancho, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Were this campaign taking place in Ancient Rome, Bernie would already be President, because birds are such an important part of augury and the practice of taking the auspices

The bird made its appearance on March 25, 2016 in Portland, Oregon, when it landed right next to Bernie Sanders, eventually hopping onto the front edge of his lectern. You may watch this here on YouTube [1:48].  

Most candidates, facing such a positive omen, might well have linked it to his/her own campaign.  Bernie--typically--directs his audience beyond himself (to the "US" if you will):  “I know it doesn’t look like it, but that bird is really a dove asking us for world peace,” Sanders said. “No more wars.”




Assembling for Bernie: Photographer, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: The Press, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Entrance, Lisa, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Entrance, Eli & Roberto, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Lisa, Eli and Roberto were some of the campaign volunteers who welcomed and helped to usher in the people.




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering III, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering IV, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering V, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering VI, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering VII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering VIII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

As I noted, way back in the "cattle chutes" section, everyone seemed so happy.  Obviously, this mood lasted; the many hours of waiting has hardly dampened anyones lightness, as shown by these photographs as they finally enter the place of assembly. 





Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering IX, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering X, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XI, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Young Volunteer, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XIII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XIV, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XV, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XVI, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Those Entering XVII, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: A Democratic Socialist, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY


Even if Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist, those in the know would argue otherwise. In fact, Noam Chomsky says Bernie is hardly a socialist. He is simply "a decent, honest New Dealer."

I imagine Sanders would agree with Chomsky, given that a Rolling Stone article in November, 2015 quoted Bernie as saying that democratic socialism "means what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans."




Assembling for Bernie: #Smart Journalism, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

#SmartJournalism is a Twitter hashtag and the statement, "The Revolution Will not Be Televised" is a spoken-word poem from 1970 by Gil Scott-Heron. It had also been a popular slogan during the Black Power movement of the 1960s.

Decades later, Scott-Heron indicated that the Revolution would not be televised because it first needed to develop in people's minds, by which time it already was having its desired effect (be there or be square). 

However, in the context of the present presidential campaign, it also refers to a sometimes perceived intentional lack of TV coverage of Bernie Sanders in comparison to the other candidates, especially Donald Trump. Jason Easley writes:  "In terms of stand-alone campaign stories this year, it’s been 234 minutes for Trump, compared to 10 minutes for Sanders. And at ABC World News Tonight, it’s been 81 minutes for Trump and less than one minute for Sanders."




Assembling for Bernie: Vote Them Out, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

There are a handful of responsible Republicans in Congress and a  few more responsible Democrats. Nevertheless, the number of endorsements among Democrats in the House of Representatives for Bernie is 7, for Hillary is 164.  So, one can understand that, as unpopular as Congress is to the entire country, it is hardly any more popular among supporters of Bernie Sanders. As this man's sign reads, Congress is not on Bernie's side.

Yet, should we really vote the members of Congress out of office, as the sign asks?  It would seem that the Republicans truly deserve this fate, for Thom Hartmann argues that the Republicans have been operating on a "Chaos Strategy" of ruining our country and watching the Democrats under Obama take the blame for the past seven years. Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal would seem to concur (although not with voting Republicans out of office).

One who does concur with the bottom statement on this sign is Barney Frank, certainly one of our most thoughtful and responsible ex-Congressmen.   In October of 2014, Barney called for Americans to vote right-wing Republicans out of office.




Assembling for Bernie: Mexican Flag, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Mexican & American Flags, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

There is a reason for the several Mexican flags that people brought to this event. Bernie Sanders is sympathetic with Mexico; he visited the border last month (near Nogales); and he has stated quite clearly: "We don’t need a wall and we don't need barbwire."




Assembling for Bernie: All the Above I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: All the Above II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

This woman's sign covers several important issues: Healthcare; Climate Change; and an economic plan that will work in favor of the 99%.




Assembling for Bernie: Louisiana for Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Two Muslim Women, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Muslim Woman, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Muslims for Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Several Muslim women attended the Bernie Sanders rally. An article in Al Jazeera from February of 2016 argues that Muslims should vote for Sanders because his "social welfare programming and tax schemes would instantly advance the interests of nearly half of the Muslim American population."





Assembling for Bernie: Black Lives Matter, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Even though the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) as a whole has withheld its endorsement from any one candidate for President, an important BLM activist and journalist, Shaun King, has endorsed Bernie as the one candidate who now has placed BLM members on his staff and considers its position when shaping his policies.





Assembling for Bernie: Bernie Puppet I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Bernie Puppet II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Robin Hood Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Last year, Bernie Sanders introduced two bills in the Senate: the College for All Act and the Robin Hood Tax Bill.  They work together.  

The latter would levy a small tax (0.5% on stock transactions) as a way to fund the former, which would guarantee free tuition at every public college and university in the United States. This is hardly radical, since over forty countries already have in place such a policy.



Assembling for Bernie: Bronx Feels the Bern, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: The Growing Crowd, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Unidos con Bernie, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: On the Outcrop I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: On the Outcrop II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: On the Outcrop III, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Rosario Dawson, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

The speaking opened with actress and singer, Rosario Dawson. She was engaging, eloquent, and whipped up the crowd when she said “I’m excited about the fact that I don’t have to vote against someone, I get to vote for someone.”

Rosario was followed by the Puerto Rican rapper and producer, Residente, and then by Spike Lee. Finding no clear shot to the podium and lectern, I decided to make someone else's cel-phone picture my stand-in. These earlier speeches can be found on this link (Rosario's begins at 4:44).




Assembling for Bernie: Bronx Is Berning, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Bernie I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Bernie II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Listening to Bernie III, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY

Finally, Bernie took the stage. He covered all the major issues that we face as a country. Rather than enumerate them here, allow me to refer you to two links.

The first is a Washington Post article by John Wagner from this February. With this, Wagner provides a great source for most of Sanders' positions. Wagner's title clarifies says it all:  "'Single-Issue' candidate Bernie Sanders touches on 20 issues during a Michigan campaign stop."

The second link is another video of the speeches in the St. Mary's Park rally, this version provided by the Daily Kos. Bernie's speech begins at ca. 20:20. 




Assembling for Bernie: Bernie's People I, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY




Assembling for Bernie: Bernie's People II, St. Mary's Park, Mott Haven, South Bronx, NY


Finally, my parting shots. These are Bernie's People. Still standing, still listening, still attentive, they stayed right to the very end.






2 comments:

  1. Great Pic Tyko... Lots of fond memories.. As a kid I learn how to swim and boxed at their recreation center...

    ReplyDelete
  2. What beautiful, happy faces -- I feel the Bern!!!!

    ReplyDelete