Bernie Sanders Tours Sandtown with Baltimore Clergy
TRNN spoke to Baltimore residents about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ visit to the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood and the Freddie Gray Empowerment Center
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: On Tuesday Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders took a walking tour of the epicenter of the Baltimore uprising, Sandtown-Winchester.
Accompanied by pastors, including Jamal Bryant of the Empowerment Temple, in an attempt to boost his appeal among African-American voters.
Sanders visited Gilmor Homes where Freddie Gray lived and was arrested. Sanders said he was shocked by the conditions he witnessed.
BERNIE SANDERS: It is stunning that we’re less than an hour away from the White House. And the United States [Congress]. And it is stunning to understand that we are the wealthiest country in the history of the world and every year we are seeing more and more millionaires and more and more billionaires, but in communities like this what we are seeing is kids dropping out of school, being in bad schools, being in dilapidated housing, and it’s time to transform our national priorities. Invest in our kids. Invest in affordable housing. Invest in education. Invest in jobs. Fifty-one percent of young African-American kids in this country are unemployed or underemployed. That is a national tragedy. That has got to change. And it’s got to change for human reasons. We don’t want to see lives destroyed. But even if you’re a conservative, it’s got to change for fiscal reasons. Because you save money when you create jobs and education, rather than locking people up. It’s a very expensive proposition, to be locking people up. Better to invest in housing, and jobs, and education.
NOOR: The Real News’ Stephen Janis questioned Sanders about how his jobs programs would be different from past attempts to address poverty through government subsidies to developers.
SANDERS: Number one, when you invest a trillion dollars over five years you create 13 million decent-paying jobs. And in addition to that you can create a whole lot of jobs rebuilding. Not only our crumbling infrastructure, our roads and bridges and water systems, but the kind of housing situation we are seeing right here in this community. We can put people to work all over America building affordable housing.
Second of all, working with Congressman John Conyers of Michigan, he and I have introduced legislation that would provide a million jobs specifically for low-income kids. Disproportionately, again, African-American and Hispanic kids. Makes a lot more sense to me to be getting kids jobs rather than seeing them hang out on street corners and end up in jail.
NOOR: Sanders was greeted by supporters, including Sandtown resident Julius Johnson.
JULIUS JOHNSON: He’s the only one running without a super PAC. He’s the only one ain’t got all them billions of dollars behind him.
NOOR: Why is that important to you?
JOHNSON: We don’t need all the people in there with all that money. What they going to do with it? Nothing, like they’re doing now.
NOOR: Others, like Johns Hopkins hospital worker Sharai Nixon say they weren’t aware of Sanders’ platform, but found it appealing.
Sanders is the only candidate that’s really saying universal healthcare, free education for everybody. Does that, does that resonate with you?
SHARAI NIXON: Yes, it does. Actually, that would be great. And like I said, if he could put some more money into the fundamental things for the kids, like after school programs. That is really important. That’s something that was taken away. So like I said, we do have a, a high crime thing, you know. But if he does that, things will change.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: The public housing situation has been worse and [inaud.] in that they’ve allowed the [inaud.] to deteriorate. And then we have the scandal with the maintenance of the facilities, taking advantage of the residents, yes.
NOOR: Some who went to hear Sen. Sanders’ message also aimed to raise awareness over issues like police brutality, and chanted for Freddie Gray. Among them was Gilmor Homes resident Kiona, who also participates in weekly protests demanding justice for Tyrone West, who was killed in police custody over two years ago in Baltimore.
KIONA: [Chanting with group] All night, all day, we’re going to fight for Freddie Gray. [Chanting continues] Even when y’all gone, we’re going to be fighting. Even when y’all gone we’re going to be fighting. What are you going to do to end police brutality? What are you going to do to end these scandalous politician games that they play with our lives? What are you going to do to end this? The community want a debate. We got our own voice.
We asked several Sanders supporters if they would continue to agitate for the policies he stands for, even if he doesn’t get the Democratic nomination.
STEPHANIE ROUNDTREE: I guess I’d have to vote for Hillary or O’Malley if need be, but I’m hoping that Bernie gets the election.
NOOR: Would you still continue your being involved in these different causes even if, if Bernie Sanders loses the primary? Would you still continue the work you’re doing now?
ROUNDTREE: Oh, absolutely. The revolution needs to continue either way. I mean, Bernie Sanders is bring up a lot of issues that need to be dealt with right now. And if he doesn’t get elected then we need to keep continuing. Because it’s our duty to help make this country better.
NOOR: What if Bernie Sanders doesn’t win the primary?
LOUISE ISA: I’m not going to stop making other elected officials uncomfortable about the same conversation. I mean, if I have no choice to vote for Hillary, I’m going to make it very hard for her to accept it.
MILLY ISA: Yeah. And it’s just continuing to fight the good fight. And if you believe in something, that’s what you have to become. And yeah, just keep fighting the good fight.
L. ISA: Yeah, we’re not going to give up.
M. ISA: No, can’t. Too old for that.
NOOR: So you’re going to do both. You’re going to continue activism, try to push the Democrats to the left, but you’re still going to support, most likely, Hillary Clinton.
HARRY HUNTLEY: Absolutely. I think it’s about going out and talking to your representatives. The point of having representatives, whether it’s the president, whether it’s your congressman, your city councilman, is when you have an issue, you call them. And you say, I think you should vote this way. I think you should push this. And you put pressure on them, and you can do that with Bernie. You can do it with Hillary. You can do it with City Councilman Nick Mosby.
NOOR: From Baltimore, this is Jaisal Noor.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.