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Rhode Island for Bernie Kickoff Rally draws hundreds of eager volunteers and supporters

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Decades from now historians will say that 2020 was a dark moment in the history of the human race,” said Marco David Carrasco representing the Sunrise Movement. “They’ll tell of how in 2020 Australia had fires that swept through the entire continent. They’ll talk about how in 2020 sea levels continued to rise and devastating storms continued to rage throughout the world, escalating more and more, devastating people all across the world, leading to countless climate refugees. They’ll tell of how, in 2020, corrupt politicians continued to refuse to break their ties to the fossil fuel industry, how, in 2020, the earth stood on the brink of climate catastrophe, dominated by a corrupt political establishment that refused to take the crisis seriously.

But – decades from now, historians will also say that 2020 was the year that ordinary people throughout this country stood up and built a massive, unstoppable movement to elect Bernie Sanders as President of the United States…


In what organizers called “the first major organizing event in Rhode Island for any presidential campaign,” around 400 Rhode Islander residents gathered inside the Columbus Theater in Providence in support of Bernie Sanders’ campaign for President of the United States. The rally featured performances from Rhode Island-based artists and appearances by a series of local elected officials and members of organizations that have endorsed Bernie’s campaign.

Sanders, who easily won the 2016 primary in Rhode Island, beating Hillary Clinton, who eventually won the Democratic nomination before losing the general election to Donald Trump, demonstrated that he still has strong support in Rhode Island. Sanders has gained the support of progressives and young people in Rhode island, enjoying endorsements from the Providence Democratic Socialists of America and the Sunrise Movement.

The event was organized by Rhode Island for Bernie, described as a grassroots effort of Rhode Islanders working together to support Bernie Sanders’ campaign for president. Though in frequent communication with the official Sanders campaign, they are a completely local and volunteer-led effort.

Elected officials such as State Senator Sam Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) and progressive city councilmembers from across the state have endorsed Sanders ahead of this event, and many were present.

Rally organizers began the event with a goal of recruiting enough volunteers to fill two buses heading to New Hampshire over coming weekends. Organizers exceeded their goal.


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“There’s no other candidate creating this kind of excitement among Rhode Islanders or inspiring this many people to give up their weekends to talk to voters in New Hampshire,” said Dan Denvir, one of the lead organizers of the rally, in a statement. “But we’re willing to make that investment because we understand the stakes, and we know that Bernie is our best hope at winning a livable future.”

There will be a Students for Bernie rally on January 28, with more events to follow, promise organizers.


Below is all the video from the event.

“I am the daughter of a Latino immigrant and of two parents who have struggled to afford their housing and their healthcare. I am deeply committed to the Green New Deal as the only way to address the climate crisis and the crisis of inequality at the same damn time,” said Thea Rianfrancos a Providence College professor and member of the Providence Democratic Socialists of America, who emceed the event. “For all these reasons I support Bernie Sanders…”

“The fights that Bernie Sanders has championed in his lifetime of public service are the issues that strike at the heart of inequality and poverty in the United States,” said Providence City Councilmember Rachel Miller (Ward 13). “To have a candidate that speaks directly to the problems our communities face, not around them, is unique. What’s more, his call for a mass movement – ‘Not Me, Us’ – is exactly what our broken politics need right now.”

“We are here for the same thing. A better future, a liveable future and a future where everyone can live in dignity,” said David Morales, candidate for the House District 7. “And although it’s easy to be demoralized because of our current climate crisis, immigration abuse and international warfare, we have maintained hope, but more importantly, we are prepared to organize across communities collectively.

“Systemic change can only happen when it comes from the bottom up…”

“It is the people in this room who are going to deliver Rhode Island for Bernie Sanders – not just in the primary, but in the general election…” said Rhode Island State Senator Sam Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence). “One of the reasons I am so excited about Bernie is that he is the strongest candidate to beat Donald Trump and end our national nightmare!”

Performance by La Neve:

“Bernie Sanders is in the best position to inspire the movement we need to defeat Donald Trump, and today’s rally reflects this,” said former Rhode Island State Representative and co-founder of RI Working Families Party, Aaron Regunberg. “There are already hundreds of Rhode Islanders who have committed to making phone calls and knocking doors in New Hampshire for Bernie. That’s the kind of grassroots energy we’re going to need to take on Trump’s hate-fueled, big-money machine, and we’re confident today’s organizing will mobilize even more supporters to take action.”

“Decades from now historians will say that 2020 was a dark moment in the history of the human race,” said Marco David Carrasco representing the Sunrise Movement. “They’ll tell of how in 2020 Australia had fires that swept through the entire continent. They’ll talk about how in 2020 sea levels continued to rise and devastating storms continued to rage throughout the world, escalating more and more, devastating people all across the world, leading to countless climate refugees. They’ll tell of how, in 2020, corrupt politicians continued to refuse to break their ties to the fossil fuel industry, how, in 2020, the earth stood on the brink of climate catastrophe, dominated by a corrupt political establishment that refused to take the crisis seriously.

“But – decades from now, historians will also say that 2020 was the year that ordinary people throughout this country stood up and built a massive, unstoppable movement to elect Bernie Sanders as President of the United States…”

“As a low-income Hispanic woman with a disabled mother, Bernie’s bold economic agenda was something that interested me,” said local activist Kinverly Dicupe. “It surprised me at the time because I had never seen anything like it. Bernie redefined for me what was indeed possible…”

Performance by Aura Moreno:

Samantha Valente from the National Sanders organization:

Dennis Hogan, local volunteer:

“I first ran for office last year at 20-years old,” said Providence City Councilmember Kat Kerwin (Ward 12). “And something that I found was even though I was born and raised in Providence and I had campaigned for other people running for office, I found that when I decided to step up and run for office I didn’t get a lot of ‘establishment’ support.

“People said things like, ‘You’re too young’ and ‘You haven’t graduated from college yet’ and ‘You shouldn’t really take on an incumbent.’

“What I found when I talked to my constituents was that they were excited. They wanted to talk about issues like economic justice, they wanted to hear what we could do about climate change, they wanted to talk about decriminalizing sex work.

“And that’s why I’m endorsing Bernie Sanders for President. Because the truth is, the establishment is there. The media isn’t there, but we’re here…”

Randy Noka, a member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, spoke about Status Purple, a group dedicated to ending the oppression, and the many injustices, brought against the Narragansett Indian Tribe by the State of Rhode Island.

“This country has so much going for it,” said Noka. “But there’s so much more that we can learn about each other – the rights of minorities, the rights of those afflicted, the healthcare issues of those that need it – and Lord knows, this room knows, it isn’t happening with the man occupying the White House right now…”

“I’m a doctor,” said Portsmouth Town Councilmember, Dr Mark Ryan. “For the last 30 years I’ve seen more and more of my patients being bankrupted, being killed, by the disgustingly immoral, flawed healthcare system we have in this country. Most Americans have no idea how abnormal our healthcare system is…

“The last time we had a serious presidential candidate who advocated for Medicare for All, was Harry Truman in 1948. We cannot wait another 70 years…”

Jeanine Calkin, co-chair of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative (RIPC), introduced some of the candidates running for office this year, including Cynthia Mendes, running for Senate District 18; Kendra Anderson, running for Senate District 31; Maggie Kain, running for Senate District 37; Nicholas Delmenico running for House District 27 and Zach Colón, running for Warwick City Council (Ward 9).

Performance by Chachi Carvalho:

Dennis Hogan, local volunteer:

“I am undocumented and unafraid!” said Rodrigo Pimentel, activist and Dreamer. “The current administration might end DACA, the program that keeps me safe from deportation. Why would President Trump do such a thing?

“Well, by using the politics of hate and fear, the President and many others who came before him are able to point to that foreigner over there and say, ‘They are the cause of all our problems…”

When people think they aren’t capable of running for office, Portsmouth Town Council Vice President and 2016 Sanders Delegate Linda Ujifusa tells them, “You have enough knowledge to be the President of the United States.

“So please stop using that excuse. Really. You can run for town council…”

“We are at a critical moment in American history, a turning point in human history, the most important election of our lives,” said Woonsocket City Councilmember Alex Kithes. “We’re in a fight for the future. Medical and student loan debt are crippling the working class. Fascism is on the rise globally, including right here in our back yard. The design flaws in our economy, our government, are becoming readily obvious. And we are in the midst of a climate crisis that is so severe that id it is not addressed with a just transition… it threatens human extinction…”

Performance by Justice Ameer Gaines:

Performance by Laura Brown Lavoie:

“We’re here to finish what we started in 2016,” said Central Falls City Councilmember Jonathan Acosta (Ward 1). “Four years ago, Rhode Islanders showed their desire to see Bernie Sanders’ bold solutions on housing, economic justice, criminal justice reform, and universal healthcare enacted in our state and around the country. Today we’re kicking off the local organizing we need to make this vision a reality in 2020.”

“We need to elect a leader who will fight for the change this country needs,” said Cranston City Councilmember John Donegan (Ward 3). “A candidate that knows the inequality that runs deep into the foundations and damaged its existence in ways that we see all around us…

“We need a candidate who will rise to the challenge and take on these problems, knowing we may not always win, but the fight is worth having…”

“We have a moment, right here, right now,” said Marco McWilliams, Black Studies Scholar and activist, “where we can make a marked shift. We can change the course…

“Probably nobody in this room right now thinks we can reform our way to revolution. That’s not the point. The point is: Sometimes you have to make a little bit of change, just so you can eat, get a piece of bread and some water…”

Dennis Hogan, local volunteer:

Performance by the What Cheer? Brigade, that lead the audience out into the street:


Thea Rianfrancos
Rachel Miller
David Morales
Sam Bell
La Neve
Aaron Regunberg
Marcos David Carrasco
Kinverly Dicupe
Aura Moreno
Samantha Valente
Dennis Hogan
Kat Kerwin
Randy Noka
Mark Ryan
Jeanine Calkin and members of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative
Jeanine Calkin and members of the Rhode Island Political Cooperative
Justice Gaines
Jonathan Acosta
Marco McWilliams
Chachi Carvalho

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