Rosario Dawson spoke about her Lower East Side roots and issued a series of pointed jabs at Hillary Clinton last night at a Bernie Sanders rally in the South Bronx. “Shame on you, Hillary!” the Kids star scolded while helping to introduce Sanders to what the candidate estimated were 15,000 people at St. Mary’s Park. “Whoa, sorry, hold on,” she caught herself, to the delight of the crowd. “Let me watch my tone.”
The #tonedownforwhat reference came after Dawson said it was “very misleading and very divisive” for Clinton to knock Sanders for supposedly downplaying anti-abortion comments made by Donald Trump.
Dawson also called out Clinton for being slow to agree to a New York debate, and for having once used terms like “illegal immigrants”, “superpredators,” and “deadbeats.” Seemingly spurred on by someone in the crowd, she added, “Yes, she is under FBI investigation, thank you—that’s not being promoted very much, but she is about to be interviewed in a little bit.”
Dawson also poked fun at the stereotyping of Sanders supporters, specifically mentioning Gloria Steinem’s comment about young women going where the boys are. “I’m really glad to see quite a lot of females and males here,” she said.
Then there’s the notion that all of Bernie’s supporters are white. “Well, my daddy – my biological daddy, anyway – is Irish, so Bernie didn’t need to make me white,” Dawson joked to the ethnically diverse crowd. “But apparently all y’all are white— that’s crazy. I must be having issues with my eyes. No, the reality is when they’re talking about that stuff, they’re trying to divide us.”
On the other hand, Sanders “can draw a crowd that makes me dizzy with happiness and love and excitement,” Dawson said, going on to throw another couple of jabs at Clinton. “She had a fraction of that many people yesterday at the Apollo,” she said, referring to Clinton’s rally at the 1,500-capacity theater, “and failed to mention that when she was a senator, two million people were stopped because of stop and frisk, that she said nothing about.”
The Apollo event wasn’t Clinton’s first in New York. Last month, a few hundred people attended a fundraiser at Brooklyn Bowl, where Bill Clinton objected to “the absence of serious debate and discussion” among Sanders supporters.
Dawson reminded the crowd that she grew up on the Lower East Side, and her mom was born and raised in the Bronx. “I know New Yorkers and we are not interested in being bamboozled, right, Spike?” she asked Spike Lee, who also spoke at the Bernie in the Bronx event.
Dawson invoked 9/11 when she praised New Yorkers for empathizing with Syrian refuges and for coming together during the blackout of 2003. “My mom was walking down the street on the Lower East Side going, ‘Neighbors, bring out your meat, and meet your neighbors,’ so we could share our perishables,” Dawson said of the two-day power outage. “People were making love on the fire escapes and dancing in drum circles, naked in the parks; walking through Times Square because they could see the stars for the first time; taking care of each other during Hurricane Sandy, making sure our neighbors had medicine and food who couldn’t walk down the stairs; chargers, generators so they could get their phones charged because that’s now as important as water; marched against the bailout because they knew the people needed the bailout, not the banks.”
After shouting out New York’s diversity, Chinese food, pizza, and, of course, its “dangerous” wooden rollercoaster, Dawson said “we’ve seen what gentrification does to our community,” and urged crowd members to bring five people with them to vote – “to show the world that we knew the bailout was wrong, to show the world that we knew we weren’t supposed to go to Iraq and invade that country. We weren’t. That had nothing to do with 9/11. And the mass media that sold us that, is also the mass media that’s trying to sell us the person who voted for it.”
Sanders was a little less effusive about his local roots, though he introduced himself by noting, “I am very proud that I was born here in New York City, that my wife was born in Brooklyn, New York. My father came to this country at the age of 17 from Poland without a nickel in his pocket, he never made much money. We lived in a three-and-a-half room, rent-controlled apartment in Brooklyn, so I learned a little bit about what it means to grow up in a family that has no money and I also learned a little bit about the immigrant experience. Those lessons I will never forget.”
Later, Sanders, whose campaign opened a Gowanus headquarters last week, noted that he attended public schools in Brooklyn while growing up in Flatbush. “I had a good education and I want every kid in this city and this state to have a quality, good public education. And that means that instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires or fighting wars we should not be fighting, we’re going to be investing in housing and education and health care.”
You can watch the speeches in their entirety here.