Bernie Sanders Speaks In Downtown Phoenix Alongside Gallego, Grijalva

By  Bridget Dowd
Published: Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 6:21pm
Updated: Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 8:34pm

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders appeared in downtown Phoenix on March 11, 2018.
(Photo by Bridget Dowd - KJZZ)

Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders appeared in downtown Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of people lined up early for the rally at the Orpheum Theatre.

The Orpheum, which holds 1,364 people, was filled almost to capacity, as fans of the Sanders and even a few supporters of President Donald Trump watched Sanders speak.

Arizona Democratic Reps. Raul Grijalva and Ruben Gallego also spoke at the event before Sanders was brought on stage. They addressed issues such as immigration, gun violence and paying for college.

Elisa McDowell was in the audience, sporting buttons like “Feel the Bern” and “DREAMers are welcome here.”

"I work in the medical field and I see people all the time, not getting the care that they deserve and need because of insurance deficits,” McDowell said. “So I’m a huge supporter of Medicare for all. I believe money in politics is ruining our democracy and I love, love, love that Bernie did a campaign based solely on small donations.”

During the rally, some Trump supporters were removed by security for disrupting the speakers. Following Sanders’ speech, people with Trump flags and “Make America Great Again” shirts stood outside to voice their opinions with megaphones. One woman expressed her belief that college shouldn’t be free.

Hundreds of Arizonans lined up early for the rally at the Orpheum Theatre on March 11, 2018.
(Photo by Bridget Dowd - KJZZ)

McDowell said although she disagrees with their views, everyone has a right to voice their beliefs.

“I’m a big believer in free speech and democracy,” McDowell said, “which means that if I disagree with you — well, so? Come on out here. They’re off their butts and they care about their country, so, yay for them.”

McDowell added that she’s a proud taxpayer and relays the importance of paying those taxes to her children.

“People getting things for free from the government, well that’s just a flat-out lie,” she said. “Every time my kid buys a bag of Hot Cheetos from Circle K, they have to pay 50 cents in taxes and they used to whine about it. I said, well, you like your teachers, you like your streets, you like the cops, you like your public library … you are paying for that. Be proud of it.”

Shelly Worob has been a preschool teacher for most of her life and has a son who is incarcerated. She attended the rally and said she’s concerned that billionaires have taken over the country.

"They are trying to cut in-person visitation in half,” Worob said. “Corporations are trying to bring in video technology and make video visitation that prison families have to pay for the standard. So that’s an example of corporate interests trumping human interests.”

Sunday’s rally downtown followed a Make America Great Again event in north Phoenix on Saturday. The rally at Cactus Park featured speakers such as Republican U.S. Senate candidates Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio.

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