Metro, Boston

Boston Socialist Alternative Organizes Rally for Bernie Sanders

A large group made its way throughout the streets, starting on Park Street. Some people brought their children, others brought their dogs dressed in Bernie Sanders pins. A couple even brought their pet rat and carried a sign that said “Socialist democRATS.” Tailed at the end of the crowd was an elderly woman who still managed to march with her walker that was decorated with a “Bernie 2020” sign. 

The Boston Socialist Alternative held the Boston Rally and March for Bernie on Saturday. With the Massachusetts Democratic Primary approaching on March 3, the Boston Socialist Alternative organized the event in the hopes to energize and gather support for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. 

Liam Easton-Calabria, an organizer of the rally and member of the Boston Socialist Alternative, explained how he traveled outside of hospitals, stood at T stops where working-class people commute every day, and went to schools to talk to students in order to reach voters from the Boston area to participate in Saturday’s rally. Easton-Calabria said he hoped to gather student groups in Boston and use the march as a way to bring many facets of the Bernie movement together, specifically the young people. He saw the rally as a key organizing tool before the primary. 

“This march is not gonna be simply a gathering of people making noise showing their excitement for Bernie Sanders,” Easton-Calabria said. “Hopefully it will be a large demonstration and will bring in people who have not yet gotten involved with the political process. We will be actively telling them what they can do.”

Justine Chung, a senior at Tufts University and one of the founders of the student organization Tufts for Bernie, also promoted the rally to the students at Tufts University. The Tufts for Bernie student organization also organizes weekly phonebanks, canvass trips, tabling, and discussions.

Elan Axelbank, a member of the Boston Socialist Alternative, rallied the crowd with a large megaphone. He invited activists to join him on the steps of the State House with their homemade signs for photos. Individuals who had been selected by the organization prior to the rally then spoke about the issues central to Sanders’ campaign and promoted other ways to get involved beyond the rally. The rally also had tables where individuals could sign up for future canvassing, phone banking, and street canvassing events leading up to the Massachusetts primary.

The turnout consisted of many individuals, many of whom were adults who came with their friends. Others were parents who also brought their young children with them to the march. Many people in the group said they were either students or educators.

“We want to show numbers. We want to show that Bernie is bringing out voters,” said Susan Markowitz, a retired teacher and administrator of Boston Public Schools. 

As the group marched, it made stops periodically to let other speakers voice their enthusiasm for Sanders. “Not me, us!” was one of the many chants of the marchers. 

The rally was, however, smaller than anticipated, Markowitz explained. Still, it drew a crowd of people that support Sanders. 

“I support Sanders because he gets it,” said student Emma Henson. 

Professor of Bunker Hill Community College Balash Salamatbakhsh supports Sanders for his rational agenda that will help the working class by removing corporate power from the government, he said. 

“He’s the only one who’s building a movement rather than running a campaign,” said Rich Levy, a political science professor at Salem State University who participated in the march.

Sanders recently won the New Hampshire Democratic primary with 25.7 percent of the votes, according to Politico. He also came in second during the Iowa primary and is led in votes during the Nevada primary. 

“He’s developed an incredible campaign apparatus that has reached out to people who are not normally in tune with democratic politics,” Easton-Calabria said. 

Chung spoke about the importance of the rally so close to the March 3 primary.

“The rally really solidified to all of us how urgent it is for Bernie to win big in Massachusetts,” Chung said. “Massachusetts votes so soon, and we want all casual Bernie supporters to know that now is the time to take action. Very visible marches like this remind us all that this election really is life-or-death, and we need everyone to do this with us now.”

Featured Image by Grace Yang/for The Heights

February 23, 2020