Largest Protest In Support of Manning as Court Martial Begins
Nearly two thousand supporters of US Army PFC Bradley Manning rallied and marched on Fort Meade, Maryland, this afternoon for the young whistle-blower.
Under a sweltering sun, Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, former political prisoner-turned-human rights advocate Sarah Shourd, LGBT activist and US Army LT Dan Choi, and retired US Army Col. Ann Wright addressed supporters at the Llewellyn Gate, nearest the military courtroom.
The demonstration, which lasted several hours, comes two days before Manning’s trial is set to begin at Ft. Meade, on June 3, and three years after his arrest. The government is charging Manning with indirectly “aiding the enemy” for releasing hundreds of thousands of war logs, diplomatic cables, and military videos to the transparency website WikiLeaks.
PFC Manning has said that he hoped the releases would “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.”
A dozen chartered buses brought supporters from across the northeast, including three buses from New York City. Military veterans and activists traveled from around North America—some arriving from as far as Michigan, Montreal, and Mexico City.
“People came from great distances to stand with a true American hero,” said Jeff Paterson, director of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “From Bradley’s demeanor in court, it’s clear he takes strength from the outpouring of support.”
Today’s rally was held with the assistance of many national organizations, including Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, CODEPINK Women for Peace, World Can’t Wait, and Courage to Resist.
In addition to today’s event, the Bradley Manning Support Fund is also responsible for 100% of PFC Manning’s legal fees. Twenty thousand supporters have contributed over $1.25 million dollars in defense of PFC Manning and towards associated public education efforts, since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010.
The rally was held with the assistance of many national organizations including Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, CODEPINK Women for Peace, World Can’t Wait, Civilian-Soldier Alliance, and Courage to Resist. With their support this rally was the most significant mobilization of public support for Bradley Manning yet.
Complete list of speakers:
Kevin Zeese, Bradley Manning Support Network
Bob Meola, Bradley Manning Support Network
Gerry Condon, Bradley Manning Support Network
Jeff Paterson, Bradley Manning Support Network
Ward Reilly, Veterans for Peace
Heather Linebaugh, Former Intelligence Analyst
Dooler, Queer activist
Debra Sweet, World Can’t Wait
Medea Benjamin, Nancy Mancias, Rooj from Codepink
Col. Ann Wright (ret.)
Jacob David George
Lt. Dan Choi
Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower
Source: Bradley Manning Support Network