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Free speech zone features debate supporters and protestors

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Protestors line the free speech zone on Lincoln Blvd. 

Along the Lincoln Blvd. entrance of LMU, hundreds of Democratic candidate supporters and protesters lined the street.

Dominating the street were charter school activists. Led by Milwaukee-based activist Howard Fuller, parents, students and teachers from schools all over the county chanted, danced and made their voices heard. 

“We have about 600 to 900 students and families from Oakland, Sacramento, San Bernardino, Orange County and Los Angeles proper out here to let folks know that charter schools are serving our kids,” said Jay Artis-Wright. “Keep your hands off of them.” Artis-Wright is a mother of two children who attend charter schools, and she chose to attend the demonstration to support her kids. 

The group was joined by the student marching band and spirit squad from Fortune School, a charter school in Sacramento, California.

Other activist groups included Arriba Las Vegas, an immigrants rights group based in Nevada, accompanied by performance group Jornaleros Del Norte. While the organization was not supporting a specific candidate, they wanted to spread awareness about their cause. “What we want is reform,” said Elearar Castellanos, an Arriba activist. “We need more justice for the immigrant people and immigrant workers.” 

In addition to the activist groups, the majority of candidates had groups of supporters in the Free Speech Zone. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Former Vice President Joe Biden, businessman Andrew Yang, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mayor Pete Buttigieg all had groups of supporters. 

“I think the Yang candidacy has a lot of really powerful, fresh new energy and ideas,” said Mac King, Yang supporter and member of PerformersForYang, “Yang has so [many] new ideas that he’s ready to talk about, but he does not get to talk about. That is why we are here, because he hasn’t had much debate time.” 

Biden supporter and USC student Abby Robbis expressed similar sentiments of support for her candidate. “We need someone as kind, wonderful, compassionate as [Biden],” said Robbis, “He is really committed to fight injustice with solutions that work.”

While most demonstrators supported the Democratic candidates, Mario Astrada and Mary Shannon came to show their support for current president Donald Trump. “I [came out here] to actually listen to the other side,” said Shannon, “to let people know that [Republicans] aren’t Nazis [or] racists.”

However, in the spirit of the Democratic debate, Shannon notes, “If I had to, I would vote for Andrew Yang.”

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