A passionate Bernie Sanders took his campaign away from the podium and walked the streets of Sandtown-Winchester, the neighborhood where Freddie Gray grew up, to condemn racial disparities and speak about bringing money and job placement to one of the nation’s most disenfranchised areas.
The Democratic candidate arrived in the West Baltimore, Md. neighborhood Tuesday to address Gray’s death and his plans to improve criminal justice reform and harsh police practices against marginalized communities. Gray died in police custody in April 2015. One of the six officers involved in his unlawful arrest and death is currently on trial.
Sanders was surrounded by political and religious leaders from the area during his trip, the Huffington Post reports. The presidential hopeful even won over a few Hillary Clinton supporters, but some residents weren’t so friendly, pointing out nothing has changed since Gray’s death.
The Huffington Post reports:
“What he gon’ do? What can he do for us? I mean, there ain’t too much they can do,” said Tony Morallis, a resident of Sandtown-Winchester. “They ain’t done nothing yet. No changes been going on. The same thing has still been going on — police brutality and harassment.”
Politicians and activists agreed with Sanders regarding the city’s need for better schools and jobs. Kwame Rose, a prominent youth advocacy motivator, stressed the need for more funding in the area.
“A lot of people have come to Baltimore and walked through Sandtown within the last eight months, but that doesn’t make a difference. People will still be poor in Sandtown when Bernie leaves,” Rose said. “Police will still be violent when Bernie leaves. You know? It’s another day in Baltimore.”
Sanders’ trip to Baltimore served as a key example of his fight for job and economic equality in regards to the entire nation. Speaking to the press at the Freddie Gray Empowerment Center, Sanders loosely compared Baltimore to a third-world country.
The Baltimore Sun reports:
“Anyone who took the walk that we took around this neighborhood would not think you’re in a wealthy nation,” Sanders said. “You would think that you were in a Third World country.”
Some of Sanders’ statements were largely overlooked by his decision not to talk about the Islamic State, but many residents were glad to encounter a presidential candidate who cared more about domestic issues.