EASTHAM — A vocal crowd met U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday afternoon as she aimed to bring optimism and hope to a room filled with Cape Codders and visitors dissatisfied with the current administration in Washington.

Warren, who is seeking re-election to the Senate in November, held the “Outer Cape Town Hall” at Nauset Regional High School, drawing close to 500 people.

The event was promoted as a session to answer questions and describe to voters how she is holding the Trump administration accountable while standing up for working families of Massachusetts against powerful corporate interests.

Questions from the audience touched on topics ranging from the rising cost of prescription drugs, to the party’s focus on the middle class, to stagnant income.

But the most controversial question came from a woman from Western Massachusetts who asked Warren to address those affected by her recent characterization of the U.S. judicial system as racist.

Warren’s appearance on Cape comes on the heels of recent comments in which she described the justice system as “racist ... from front to back.” That Aug. 3 statement at Dillard University in New Orleans sparked swift responses from Massachusetts police chiefs, including Yarmouth Police Chief Frank Frederickson.

“It is more bothersome that a short time ago Senator Warren made some efforts to pay respects to Sgt. Sean Gannon and Sgt. Michael Chesnea who lost their lives while protecting us all,” Frederickson wrote. “Senator Warren’s recent statement tarnished us all and diminished the sincerity of her condolence efforts. I now cannot trust her actions or words are real.”

In her comments, Warren cited the disproportionate number of arrests for black offenders for petty drug possession, an overburdened public defender system and some state laws that keep convicted felons from voting as signs of “institutional racism.”

At Saturday’s event, Warren continued to defend her statement, saying the topic is part of a long conversation.

“There are a lot of terrific people, hard-working people, dedicated people who are (working) in our criminal justice system ... and they get up every day trying to build a system that is fair, a system that is just and a system that reflects the best in America,” she said. “They also have said — many people at every part of that system — that we need significant reform.”

Warren said even though numbers show that black and white people use marijuana at the same rate, African-Americans are 3½ times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as whites. Studies show for exactly the same crimes, blacks are more likely to be arrested and prosecuted than whites, she said.

She said the criminal justice system treats someone who has money to pay for a good lawyer a lot differently than someone who doesn’t, saying there are two different criminal justice systems.

“This is why we talk about the criminal justice system,” she said. “It’s not about individuals, not about any particular people.” Warren described a system that is flawed at the front end by problems with some laws Congress makes, and at the back end by problems in helping people who have served their time and are trying to re-enter society.

A group of four protesters, some holding signs for Geoff Diehl, Warren’s opponent in the November election, stood outside the school Saturday.

Adam Lange, of Brewster, said he came out because he believed Warren’s remarks on the criminal justice system would only add to the hostility against police officers.

“Just despicable to stir up the crazies out there,” Lange said.

Other topics of discussion at the forum covered topics such as rebuilding the middle class, spreading the Democratic message and education reform.

Andrea Henderson, of Duxbury, who was visiting her parents in Eastham, said she came to the event because she is not happy about the current state of affairs in Washington.

“We support Elizabeth Warren to run and we’re interested to see what she says,” Henderson said.

Eastham resident Joanne Cossitt, at the forum with her partner, David Permal, and son, Aidan Pernal, said Warren “checked all her boxes” in terms of a good candidate.

“I’m interested in anything specific to Cape Cod,” Cossitt said before Warren spoke. “Look at Eastham and you see a lot of great opportunities, but we’re struggling with what to do with the future, especially with increasing amount of vacationers.”