Election 2016: Sanders Brings Record Crowds to Washington Square Park

Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) addresses supporters in New York City on Wednesday night. | Credit: Bernie 2012

Written by Naeem Crawford-Muhammad, Editor-in-Chief

Riding the momentum of a string of primary and caucus victories in his race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) addressed thousands of cheering supporters in New York City’s Washington Square Park on Wednesday night.

New York royalty Spike Lee, Tim Robbins, and Rosario Dawson warmed up the throngs of attendees on a crisp, spring night when temperatures dipped into the forties. Sanders’ campaign estimated that the event drew more than 27,000 supporters to the Greenwich Village park, besting then-candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 record of 24,000. The crowd was notably young and diverse, perhaps reflecting the character of New York University, which surrounds Washington Square Park on parts of all sides.

Bernie Sanders Rally - Mercer Street
The line to enter Washington Square Park stretched several blocks down West Third Street to Mercer Street.

While the crowd may have been more diverse than those that typically attend a Sanders rally, the message was vintage Bernie, with the candidate railing against student loan debt, lack of affordable housing, and the impact of big money on the financing of elections.

“The [American people] are looking at the status quo and saying it’s not working,” Sanders said. “It’s just not working for ordinary Americans.”

Sanders is hoping to close the gap with Democratic frontrunner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of Tuesday’s New York presidential primary. According to a Sienna College survey released Wednesday, Clinton leads Sanders by 10 points. The candidates will square off in a CNN-sponsored debate tonight in Brooklyn.