March to the Polls for Bernie event builds momentum for Super Tuesday

Emma Drake/Staff

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Signs supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., were raised by a crowd of about 50 people on Sproul Plaza during the March to the Polls for Bernie event at noon March 2.

The aim of the march was to build momentum for Sanders before Super Tuesday, bring people to a nearby polling location and help people understand how to vote, according to campus senior and guest speaker James Kennerly. Prior to the march, four guest speakers rallied for support for Sanders and bolstered the crowd’s enthusiasm.

“I am so proud that I am a part of this mass movement that will win California for Bernie,” Kennerly said during his speech. “Sometimes we don’t recognize the historical importance of this movement. Because of Bernie, millions of working-class people for the first time see their suffering as part of a common struggle.”

The march was organized by various organizations including the Bernie 2020 event management team, campus coordinators and UC Berkeley Students for Bernie.

The crowd was composed of UC Berkeley graduate and undergraduate students, students from other colleges and nearby residents. Bernie 2020 signs were distributed so that many sets of hands carried a message.

Several Sanders supporters created their own signs including some that read, “Not me us,” “$ into schools and education not jails & incarceration” and “Justice is what love looks like in public.”

During his speech, Kennerly said expectations the public may have for Sanders to enter the presidential office and immediately implement his policies are not realistic. If Sanders is elected as president, according to Kennerly, it will be accompanied by resistance from conservative politicians and officials.

Kennerly expressed the need to start preparing for this reaction, rallying support from the crowd to rebuild the country’s democratic working-class institutions.

“A shared experience of struggle does not equal a revolution, but try doing a revolution without it,” Kennerly said during his speech.

The crowd marched through campus to encourage students to vote, according to Katie Look, one of the organizers of the march and a Berkeley City College sophomore. The marchers then returned to Sproul Plaza and headed to the polls.

During the march, Sanders supporters chanted phrases that included “abolish ICE,” “end the wars,” “Green New Deal,” “end Big Pharmaand “Black lives matter.”

When the marchers arrived at the polling location inside Unit 3 residence hall, Look explained how to register to vote, change party affiliations and request a crossover ballot for people registered under no party preference.

“Bernie isn’t just one other candidate, it’s a whole movement,” said Ami Alaniz, a guest speaker at the march and nutrition outreach worker for UC Berkeley University Health Services. “We’re getting inclusivity, we’re shooting for equity.”

Contact Maxine Mouly at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @moulymaxine.