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With chants of "Free Egypt! Free Manning!", two militant demonstrations merged at Occupy SF for a rally and march on Tuesday, Nov. 22, bringing together more than 300 protesters.
A 5:30pm emergency rally had been called in response to the continued repression of activists in Tahrir Square, Cairo, which had already left dozens of activists dead and hundreds injured in the hands of the Egyptian military in five days as Egyptians demand an immediate transition to a civilian government. A demonstration in solidarity with alleged military whistleblower Bradley Manning had also been called the day before in response to the announcement of the start of Manning's pre-trial hearings, now scheduled for Dec. 16.
Recognizing the common thread of U.S. imperialism linking their causes, organizers merged the two demonstrations at at Justin Herman Plaza, the site of Occupy SF, for a united march and rally demanding freedom for Manning and denouncing U.S. support for the Egyptian military rulers who are trying to put the brakes on the revolutionary process unfolding in that country. Following the joint rally at Justin Herman Plaza, protesters poured into Market Street and marched to the Federal Building at Mission St. and 7th St. for a closing rally. Hundreds of passers-by heard demonstrators chanting, “Egyptian people [Bradley Manning][Occupy SF] under attack, what we do, stand up fight back!”
The demonstration in solidarity with the Egyptian people was called by the Bay2Egypt network in San Francisco, and the Bradley Manning demonstration was called by the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Manning has been incarcerated since May 2010, accused of leaking classified military information while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. Wikileaks published the classified materials, including the shocking video of a massacre of unarmed Iraqis by a U.S. helicopter. Anti-war forces have rallied around Manning, with actions taking place across the country and messages of solidarity pouring in from around the globe.
Since U.S.-backed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was toppled on Feb. 11 by a mass uprising in Egypt, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) led by generals from the Mubarak regime have attempted to derail the revolutionary process and crush the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people, who are now putting their lives on the line to keep their movement alive. According to a Bay2Egypt press release, the U.S. government continues to fund the Egyptian government to the tune of $3 billion per year in military aid. The Egyptian people's occupation of Tahrir Square against Mubarak became an inspiration for the Occupy movement in the United States, and Egyptian and U.S. activists have shown great solidarity toward each other's struggles.
Saul Kanowitz, Omar Ali and Silvio Rodrigues contributed to this report.