MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Before Friday night’s Humphrey-Mondale fundraiser in St. Paul, Senator Bernie Sanders spoke at a forum on race and the economy in north Minneapolis, and the audience of several hundred voters had mixed reactions.

Rep. Keith Ellison, who has publicly endorsed Sanders for president, made the introductions before the Vermont senator arrived on stage. A panel of black business owners and organizers inside Patrick Henry High School’s gym, asked Sanders very specific questions about what he would do to address issues of racial disparities in Minnesota.

“We need not to be afraid of saying ‘This affects black people, white people, but poor people,” Harrison Education Center Principal Monica Fabre said.

Sanders’ opening remarks hit on common themes of his campaign, like universal health care, free public colleges and universities and the trend of rising wealth inequality.

Some attendees said they found his campaign message refreshing and honest.

“It seems he’s not with the regular political mumbo-jumbo, like Hillary Clinton,” Adrian Thompson of south Minneapolis said.

Others didn’t hear enough details, particularly when panelists pressed Sanders about his view on reparations.

“I’m really grateful he took the time to come here,” said Felicia Perry, a local business owner and panelist at the event. “I wish we had more time to really allow him to be more specific.”

With a few minutes left in the forum, Clyde Bellecourt — co-founder of the American Indian Movement — stood up to voice his dissatisfaction with the federal government’s treatment of his people.

The group invited Clinton to the forum but she declined, citing a scheduling conflict.

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