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Sanders claims record crowd, Flatbush councilman’s approval, in Prospect Park • Brooklyn Paper

Sanders claims record crowd, Flatbush councilman’s approval, in Prospect Park

A walk in the park: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vermont) greeted a record crowd in Prospect Park on April 17, asking whether the zoo there still has seals and elephants. It does still have seals, but the only Dumbo you’ll find in Brooklyn these days is under the Brooklyn Bridge.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Call it a slow Bern.

Councilman Jumaane Williams (D–Flatbush) endorsed Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vermont) on Sunday — two days before the New York primary and just in time to turn his seal of approval into a speech at a massive rally in Prospect Park. Williams put out a press release Thursday night saying he was still undecided, but seemed to have really got on board over the course of the next two days with the campaign he dubbed a “revolutionary moon shot.”

“Thirty years from now, when our children ask, ‘what were you doing when this revolutionary moon shot came?’ I’m here to say that we want to look them in the eye and say with pride, ‘We felt the Bern, baby!’ ” said Williams, only the second Council member to endorse Sanders, after Councilman Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick).

Sanders later thanked “Assemblyman Jumaane Williams” to a crowd the campaign claims was 28,300 people strong and its largest ever, with many lining up from 9 am to nab a spot on the Nethermead for the 4 pm show.

The Brooklyn-born pol — who left the borough in 1961 — reminisced about visiting the Prospect Park Zoo as a boy, and asked whether it still has seals and elephants. (It still has seals, the elephants are long gone).

“When I was a kid growing up in Flatbush, our parents would take us to Prospect Park,” he said. “But I was never here speaking to 20,000 people.”

Actors Danny Devito and Justin Long also stumped for the Vermont senator during the huge rally, while local rock band Grizzly Bear got the crowd clapping politely with its mellow set.

Williams’s 11th-hour thumbs-up comes after he joined Sanders on a tour through a Brownsville public housing complex earlier that day, along with Borough President Adams and Councilman Ritchie Torres (D–Bronx) — neither of whom have endorsed a candidate.

Williams, who co-chairs the Council’s gun violence task force, tweeted beforehand that he planned to use the meeting to grill Sanders on gun control — an issue the senator has struggled on, with rival Hillary Clinton slamming his previous support for shielding gun companies from lawsuits and opposition to background checks.

Clinton, who held a rally in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Sunday, leads Sanders by 10 percentage points ahead of Tuesday’s primary, according to the latest CBS poll.

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