Senator Bernie Sanders was interrupted by topless anti-dairy industry protesters pouring fake blood on themselves from milk cartons during the 2020 candidate’s rally in Nevada on Sunday.
As Sanders spoke to his supporters at a rally in Carson City, a group of women, some topless, taking part in a demonstration organized by the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere stormed the stage. The group, an international grassroots network founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013, often stages similar non-violent disruptive protests with animal rights activists.
“Bernie I’m your biggest supporter and I’m here to ask you to stop propping up the dairy industry and stop propping up animal agriculture,” said Priya Sawhney, one of the protesters after attempting to wrestle away Sanders’ microphone. Sanders pulled the mic away and she quickly used another on the podium.
After her remarks, at least two topless women, who had the words “let dairy die” written on their bodies, also took the stage and poured fake blood on themselves from milk cartons. According to Direct Action Everywhere, the topless protesters were subsequently arrested for indecent exposure and are being held by authorities on $2,500 bond. Sawhney, who was clothed, was escorted off the stage but reportedly did not get arrested.
The crowd began chanting “Bernie! Bernie!” as the demonstrators were shown off the stage by security. Soon after, Sanders walked back to the podium and joked: “This is Nevada, there’s always a bit of excitement.”
In a statement issued by Direct Action Everywhere after the incident, Sawhney called on Sanders to “stop propping up the dairy industry, which relies on the abuse of female cows.”
“I love Bernie, but we must hold abusive industries accountable, not shield and subsidize them. Animal farming is an industry which gives welfare payments to millionaires,” she said. “People are fed up. Like the Sanders campaign itself, animal rights is a burgeoning mass movement.”
Newsweek reached out to Sanders’ campaign for comment.
Sanders’ rally on Sunday drew a crowd of 1,042 people, according to Nevada Independent reporter Riley Snyder. There are nearly 10,000 registered Democrats across Carson City, “though many rally attendees are from out of area,” Snyder added.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who dropped out of the 2020 presidential race in September, officially announced his support for Sanders on Friday. In a statement released by Sanders’ campaign, de Blasio called the progressive candidate the best Democrat to take down President Donald Trump.
“I am standing with Bernie because he stands with working families, and always has,” he said. “New Yorkers know all too well the damage caused by Donald Trump’s xenophobia, bigotry and recklessness, and Bernie is the candidate to take him on and take him down.”