Maria Bribriesco, longtime social justice activist, introduced Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to an eager crowd of approximately 1500 supporters on Sunday at Scott County Park. Sanders was invited to speak at the Scott County Democrats’ annual Picnic in the Park fundraiser after interest rapidly outgrew capacity an event planned at the campaign’s Davenport office.
An additional 600 cars had to be turned away for lack of parking according to campaign coordinators, though they stress not all of those could be accounted for as Sanders supporters. Around 1500 people had signed in as being there to learn more about the senator or already solidly in favor of his campaign.
Picnic organizers state the event typically draws a crowd of 150.
Also represented at the event were the campaigns of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Dr.Willie Wilson of Chicago, and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, as well as those of Scott County politicians. Sanders was the only presidential hopeful to speak.
Sanders is running what many consider to be a long-shot campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, a nod presumed to go to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. However, his campaign has been in the spotlight for attracting record breaking crowds, exceeding 28,000 in Portland, Oregon on August 18th.
Bribriesco, a Sanders supporter, says she was honored to be invited to speak by local campaign organizers. The prominent activist states she had originally planned to encourage Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to seek the nomination, but became enthused about Sanders after learning more about him earlier this year.
Before a crowd that had begun to gather as much as two hours early in searing 90 degree heat, Bribriesco took the stage. She stated that growing up as part of a migrant farm worker family exposed her to issues of racial discrimination and economic injustice.
“I listened to my parents, but I also paid attention to what was going on around. I realized that we worked so hard and we were still living in poverty- something’s not right.”
She continued, “Cesar Chavez taught us two things… one, there’s dignity in work, and two, there’s strength in unity.”
“The main reason I support Bernie Sanders is that he is the only candidate that is addressing the wealth and income disparity problem.”
In his speech, which lasted approximately 40 minutes, Sanders touched on issues ranging from the controversial Citizens United decision to the Iraq war, economic injustice and civil rights, citing his consistency and lack of pandering to party politics.
In a telephone interview, Monday, Bribriesco said she believes that it is precisely his integrity that will win Sanders the nomination. She states that many, including Latinos, have lost faith in politicians who will say anything to get elected but serve corporate interests once in office.
Many believe those interests have not been kind to the Latino community, especially in areas of economic disparity; for-profit prison corporations that back laws that incarcerate disproportionate numbers of Hispanics, including anti-immigration legislation; and the squandering of money lost to tax cuts for the super wealthy that could have been spent on education and healthcare.
Bribriesco said Latinos are growing tired of being viewed as single-issue voters.
“We care about the economy, we care about healthcare, we care about education. We care about making the world a better place for everybody and Bernie Sanders shares those values.”