28,000 gather for Bernie Sanders rally at Moda Center

Bernie Sanders rally follows event in Seattle

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Troy Wayrynen)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, at the Moda Center in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Troy Wayrynen)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Sunday night spoke to his second packed crowd in the Pacific Northwest as supporters filled Portland’s Moda Center to hear the Vermont senator talk about income inequality and other issues.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, at the Moda Center. (KOIN)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks at a rally, Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015, at the Moda Center. (KOIN)

About 19,000 people cheered Sanders in the arena that is home to the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. The rally had originally been scheduled at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which has a capacity of about 12,000, but was moved in anticipation of large crowds.

Sanders spoke for about an hour and touched on things like sustainable energy, the need for affordable higher education and the environment. But much of his speech centered on economic issues.

Click here for photos from Bernie Sanders’ rally at the Moda Center

Sanders said income inequality was “the great moral issue of our time.”

“This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class – yes, we have the courage to take you on,” he said.

On Saturday Sanders spoke to a packed audience at the University of Washington campus, but earlier in the day in Seattle Sanders was shoved aside by Black Lives Matter activists who called for changes to the criminal justice system. Sanders eventually left the Saturday afternoon event at Seattle’s Westlake Park without giving his speech.

When the crowd asked the activists to allow Sanders to speak, one activist called the crowd “white supremacist liberals,” according to event participants.

Thousands line up for the Bernie Sanders rally at Moda Center, August 9, 2015. (KOIN)
Thousands line up for the Bernie Sanders rally at Moda Center, August 9, 2015. (KOIN)

After waiting about 20 minutes, Sanders himself was pushed away when he tried to take the microphone back. Instead, he waved goodbye, left the stage with a raised fist salute and waded into the crowd. He shook hands and posed for photos with supporters for about 15 minutes, and then left.

The rally at Westlake Park was organized as a birthday celebration for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Sanders later issued a statement on his website expressing his disappointment about the interruption.

“I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me,” he said.

It’s not the first time that Black Lives Matter activists disrupt the Vermont senator’s event.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be in Portland to hold a Sunday night rally at Portland's Moda Center, August 9, 2015. (KOIN)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will be in Portland to hold a Sunday night rally at Portland’s Moda Center, August 9, 2015. (KOIN)

At a town hall for Democratic presidential candidates in Phoenix last month, protesters affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement took over the stage and disrupted an interview with Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

In his campaign, Sanders has chiefly focused on issues like the middle class, climate change and criminal justice reform. In addition to advocating a $15-an-hour minimum wage and raising taxes on the rich, Sanders also supports a massive government-led jobs program to fix roads and bridges, a single-payer health care system, an expansion of Social Security benefits and debt-free college.

Sanders heads to an event in Los Angeles on Monday.

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