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Sanders rally draws thousands to Washington Square Park

Sanders and Clinton both face off on mutual home turf in Thursday night’s Democratic Party debate in Brooklyn.

Bernie Sanders joined a number of other speakers and performers at a large campaign rally in Washington Square Park Wednesday night.

The park’s name was trending on Twitter at the height of the event around 8:30 p.m., as Sanders touched on many now familiar issues: wealth inequality, expanding social security and establishing a $15 minimum wage.

The senator from Vermont also touched on criminal justice reform, saying every American should be “ashamed that we have more people in jail than any other country on Earth: 2.2 million.”

The Brooklyn native also discussed his call for free tuition at public colleges and universities, dismissing claims that his plan was impractical.

“Check out how much tuition was at [CUNY] 50 years ago -- virtually free,” Sanders said. “If we can have virtually free tuition 50 years ago, we damn well can do it today.”

RELATED:Sanders, Clinton join picket lines, fight for union support

Sanders also praised another part of progressive New York City history -- the 1968 Stonewall riots, which began only blocks from the park.

The senator also praised striking Verizon workers, calling the company a “poster child” for corporate greed.

“You have companies that in a given year, companies like Verizonand GE, paid one nickel in federal taxes and we’re losing $100 billion a year because of that tax loophole,” he said. “Well, corporate America: bad news. Change is coming.”

Actor Tim Robbins also spoke to the crowd, noting he lived five blocks from the park and later protested the Vietnam War there.

“We are supporting a candidate that has taken principled positions when others have compromised,” Robbins told the crowd. “What a radical concept: a politician that has a moral bottom line.”

Estimates put the crowd around 25-30,000.

 

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