David Joles/Star Tribune
Sen. Bernie Sanders at Friday's forum at Patrick Henry High School.
Hundreds of people are crowding into the gym at Patrick Henry High School in north Minneapolis, some wearing T-shirts for Bernie Sanders and others still undecided about whether to support the Democratic presidential candidate set to take the stage soon.
Sanders will speak at a community forum here before heading to the annual Humphrey-Mondale fundraising dinner in St. Paul, where Hillary Clinton will also make an appearance.
Activists in the Black Lives Matter movement have already made stirring calls at the North Side event, which comes as Sanders tries to make greater inroads with black voters.
“If you’re ready to have a conversation about Black Lives Matter, make some noise!” an activist called from the front of the room.
King Demetrius Pendleton said he and many of the people here are still undecided between Clinton and Sanders. A volunteer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, which put together the event, he said he wants to hear more about Sanders’ views on criminal justice, education, poverty and issues affecting the African-American community.
A lot of people say that what Sanders is proposing is not possible, Pendleton said, “but anything is possible.” Barack Obama running for president was also not seen as possible at one time, he added. “Anything is possible -- we have to stay open-minded.”
David Joles/Star Tribune
A row of public school teachers from around the Twin Cities came to cheer on Sanders, saying they were thinking not just of their own prospects but those of their low-income students.
“The things we like about Minnesota, we feel that Bernie would be able to do those things nationwide,” said Lindsey McNown, which teaches at North Community High School.
Like Sanders, she supports universal Pre-K.
“Every student should have a shot, but how many of these kids won’t get a chance to do that because of the system?” said her partner, Rich Bettini, also a teacher. “There’s so much promise that’s lost – how can we accept that?”
Tommy Leavitt came to the forum with his mind already made up: He was supporting Sanders.
“He’ll have to speak in an unscripted manner to the public and not control the narrative -- which is what I feel the Clinton campaign tries to do,” said Leavitt, who recently graduated from law school at St. Thomas. “And that shows him representing the views of the people.”
Around 4:45 p.m., an organizer got the audience cheering again.
“We are about 15 minutes away,” he yelled, “from a Democratic candidate for president of the United States making his way to north Minneapolis!”
More than a dozen members of the community drill team have marched in, banging drums and rallying the crowd.