“March for Bernie” crowds shirk demographics in support of socialism

Sanders supporters gather at Occidental Park before the "March for Bernie 2"on Saturday. (Photo by Sharayah Lane)
Sanders supporters gather at Occidental Park before the “March for Bernie 2″on Saturday. (Photo by Sharayah Lane)

“The March for Bernie 2” snaked through downtown on Saturday, showing off the diverse legion of Seattleites who were “feeling the Bern” going into key presidential primaries this month.

The event — organized by Seattle’s Socialist Alternative — was a follow up to similar marches in January and coincided with events in more than 75 cities around the U.S.  Marchers packed into Occidental Park in Pioneer Square with signs, horns and their best Bernie-supporting-attire packed the park to talk about some of the most important issues that were enticing them to support the Vermont Senator’s run for president.

Police on bicycles and motorcycles lined nearby streets before the march with an overwhelming presence that seemed unwarranted for the approximately 500-strong crowed that was gathered.

Marlene Koltin was one face in the crowed. She shared her reasoning that supporting Hillary just because she is a woman is problematic:

“Theres some stuff about Hillary being a woman and it being her time,” she reflected. “Feminism to me is about supporting who you want not based on their sex, not based on their race, not based on their religion but really supporting who you want.”

John Shaw and Marlene Koltin at Occidental Park for the beginning of the "March for Bernie 2" on Saturday. (Photo by Sharayah Lane)
John Shaw and Marlene Koltin at Occidental Park for the beginning of the “March for Bernie 2” on Saturday. (Photo by Sharayah Lane)

Much of the march seemed to focus on anti-Clinton sentiment, as many didn’t feel the need to even discuss Republican politicians or their agenda.

The speakers focused largely on Clinton’s lack of support for marriage equality in the past, her policies on immigration and deportation, and her contribution to the mass incarceration of African-Americans.

One marcher with a bull horn paused the march in front of the King County Jail on James Street to talk about how Hillary Clinton is “not like my abuela” in response to the Clinton campaign’s popular post trying to entice young Latino voters by comparing her to their grandmothers.

“We are here in support of Bernie,” he said. “We should not lose sight of who his opponent is and what she stands for. No way, no how, no Clinton”

I asked a number of marchers who they would vote for if Sanders lost the primary, and 4 out of 5 people said that they would support Green Party candidate Jill Stein before voting for Hillary Clinton.

Nick McDowell and his daughter Le’Asia. (Photo by Sharayah Lane)
Nick McDowell and his niece Le’Asia. (Photo by Sharayah Lane)

The movement for the 74-year-old Sanders has ironically been characterized as having a generational problem, with most of his support coming from the Millennial generation.

Nikeesha Gooding, who is 18 years old, shared some of her main reasons for supporting Sanders.

“I was brought up by my parents to believe that I had the whole world at my disposal, and over the years I’ve grown so disillusioned with that with the state of our economy, with everything,” said Gooding. “I shouldn’t have to spend my whole life paying off student loans.”

But there were plenty of older participants in the march, and they had different reasons for supporting Sanders.

“I haven’t lived one year of my life without war and we have got to face this we’ve got to stop these wars that are bankrupting this country,” said 71-year-old Mason Taylor, “He’s not afraid to use the word socialism and he has a very clear class consciousness. As far as I can tell he is the only candidate that thinks like that.”

Sanders' core demographic, young white men, also turned out in force at the "March for Bernie 2." (Photo by Sharayah Lane)
Sanders’ core demographic, young white men, also turned out in force at the “March for Bernie 2.” (Photo by Sharayah Lane)

The march proceeded peacefully through downtown along Fourth Avenue stopping at the Seattle Public Library for comments by the march’s organizers. The police followed closely behind as marchers chanted things like “tax, tax, tax the rich, tax, tax, tax the rich,” and “Black lives matter”.

The march ended at Westlake Park with final remarks by Kshma Sawant and others urging supporters to not lose momentum, and not to be misled by poll results for elections that haven’t happened yet.

Results of Super Tuesday primaries in 11 states will be coming in starting this evening, but Washington residents will have to wait until the March 26th Democratic Caucuses for their chance to help pick the party’s candidate.

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