On June 1, demonstrations occurred across the country to mark the fourth year of Pfc. Bradley Manning’s imprisonment and the start of his trial for exposing war crimes perpetrated abroad by the U.S. government.
A spirited march and rally took place in Fort Meade, Md., where Manning is being held and tried. He is charged with indirectly “aiding the enemy” for releasing information to the transparency website WikiLeaks.
Activists rode buses from across the Northeast, and some came from as far away as Vancouver, B.C., and Mexico City to attend the rally and march. Sponsors included the Bradley Manning Support Network, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War, with the help of Courage to Resist and many other groups. The ANSWER Coalition endorsed the protest, mobilized for it nationally, and marched with signs that read "Free Bradley Manning" and "Bradley Manning: Jailed for exposing war crimes
According to organizers, 1,000 supporters converged on Ft. Meade. In the blistering heat, activists marched over a mile from the base’s entrance to the gate nearest the military courtroom in a formidable statement of solidarity. Chants of “Free Bradley Manning!” “Bradley Manning speaks for me!” and “Truth is not a crime!” rang out loudly as activists took to the streets of the military town.
Speakers at the rally included retired Col. Ann Wright and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, both of whom offered words of strength to Manning. Supporters hung medals representing the Nobel Peace Prize, for which Manning has been nominated, along the gate.
When asked why they came, activists and supporters overwhelmingly responded: Bradley Manning is a true warrior for peace and justice; Bradley Manning saved the lives of American soldiers and of people around the world; Bradley is a hero; and Bradley Manning must be freed.
We will continue to stand in solidarity with Manning until the prosecuting military authority and President Obama hear our message: The people have the right to know what the U.S. government does around the world in our name, and Bradley Manning is a hero. Free Bradley Manning!