Elections

Protesters, supporters gather for Bernie Sanders campaign rally in Fort Worth

Bernie Sanders speaks to supporters in Fort Worth

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Fort Worth while campaigning for the 2020 presidential race. Thousands of supporters gathered in Burnett Park to hear him speak, hopeful that Texas can turn blue.
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U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders visited Fort Worth while campaigning for the 2020 presidential race. Thousands of supporters gathered in Burnett Park to hear him speak, hopeful that Texas can turn blue.

Two hours before U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’s rally was scheduled to begin in Fort Worth, about 200 people waited in line to get into the event.

Burnett Park was filled with people, merchandise tables and a handful of protesters as the doors opened at 10:30 a.m.

Lauren Tenney, a delegate in Senate District 23 for Sanders in the 2016 election, said she’s been impressed by Sanders’ campaign.

“I’m thrilled. The forces are joining together faster than last time,” she said.

On nearby buildings, police watched the crowd from above.

Security patted down attendees before they entered the gates set up around the park. Media, on the other side of the park, also went through security screenings.

Six protesters stood across Burnett Street holding signs such as “Socialism is oppression” and “Keep TX great.”

“We heard Bernie was coming to town so we thought we would come out and welcome him and tell him socialism is not welcome here,” Derrick Wilson, a member of the Young Republicans, said.

Anthony Georgiev, a member of the TCU College Republicans, said he disagrees with Sanders’ views on gun rights and taxation.

“His values don’t match with Texas values. He simply doesn’t belong in Texas,” he said.

They also took issue with Sanders’s comments Monday that all prisoners should have the right to vote.

“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life,” Wilson said.

“If someone is incarcerated, and they’re not in the society with the rest of the law abiding citizens, then they’re not even here. They can’t have any say-so in what we’re doing, so why should they vote?” Young Republican Porsha Jackson said.

Even supporters said they want to hear more from Sanders about that.

“That surprised me a bit,” said Ed Prioleau, 71, of Fort Worth. “I want to see what he says about this.”

Prioleau said he’s considering throwing his support to Sanders, but he’s not yet 100 percent decided.

Sanders’ rally in downtown’s Burnett Park is scheduled to begin at noon.

At 11:45 a.m., a few hundred people were still waiting in line to get into the gates at the park.

Sanders, who lost the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016 to Hillary Clinton, is holding his Fort Worth rally Thursday on the same day that former Vice President Joe Biden announced that he, too, is running for president.

At least two Texans have thrown their hats into the presidential race: Democrats Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro.

Before rallying in Fort Worth Thursday, Sanders was in Texas this week to attend a She the People presidential candidate forum at Texas Southern University and hold a rally in downtown Houston.

Sanders is the third Democrat to campaign in Tarrant County this year. Democrats say they see opportunity in the traditionally conservative county after Democrat Beto O’Rourke beat Republican Ted Cruz in last year’s Senate race.

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Kaley Johnson is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. She majored in investigative reporting at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has a passion for bringing readers in-depth, complex stories that will impact their lives. Send your tips via email or Twitter.
Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.
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