As Bradley Manning's military trial finally begins, people gathered (and through this week are still gathering) in cities around the country and around the world to demand his freedom. See more at bradleymanning.org.
Read Debra Sweet's blog post: Bradley Manning & Guantanamo: Resistance More Relevant Than Ever.
Report by Emma Kaplan
Along the march, many people took the Collateral Murder flyer. It was a very lively march where people chanted “Free Bradley Manning” and “Blowing the Whistle On War Crimes Is Not A Crime.” When there were crowds of people listening, I would explain to people what we were doing at there, who Bradley Manning is and what we know about U.S. war crimes because of Bradley Manning.
I would go up to bystanders and ask them if they had heard about Bradley Manning and some people had but very few of them had seen the Collateral Murder video. I talked to groups of young people about Collateral Murder and how it exposed the U.S. military killing civilians in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists and how Bradley released the video because he wanted YOU to see it. People asked if Bradley was being detained at Guantanamo. I showed our Close Guantanamo ad in The New York Times and pointed out how we would not have some of the photos of these detainees if it wasn't for Bradley Manning. I told them that we are trying to publish into international media, including how we had been offered a discount to be published in The International Herald Tribune. Some people donated right on the spot. I collected about $40 this way and there were other people who said they would donate online.
One young woman mentioned how the military covers-up rapes in the military and how they punish women for reporting them. Another person mentioned the story that came out about an Air Force official videotaping women in the shower. One family who was at the market having ice cream with their kids was really listening intently to what I was telling them and then gave a donation. The dad asked if the CIA was going to come after him now that he gave us that money. I said, I hope not but one of our strengths is all of us coming together. Almost everyone I spoke with sincerely thanked me for letting them know about this. There were even some people who had come to the protest, including some occupiers, who had also had not seen the video. I met a man in the march who said that he saw our ad in The New York Times. He said that it seemed like Bradley was standing up for what is right and he felt like he had to be there to support him.
At the end there was a speak-out where people talked about what Bradley Manning meant to them, including an Iranian man who made the point that Bradley Manning is our guy if you care about people in Iran, Iraq and other places. Hart Viges of Iraq Veterans Against the War also spoke and received cheers from the crowd when he mentioned he was with Iraq Veterans Against the War. I had the pleasure of speaking with him at South Puget Sound Community College a couple weeks ago on the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour, and he gives very heartfelt personal testimony about what his experience was in Iraq and why he decides now to work to end the occupations. I did not get to catch all the speeches but people seemed very inspired by what Bradley has done.
I also met this really cool couple from a small local anti-war group who traveled from about 3 hours outside Seattle to be there. I really liked their t-shirts and signs. They were sharing about how they were disappointed with Obama and how things are developing in a fascist direction.
On June 1st almost two thousand people rallied to support Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, where Bradley’s trial is set to begin on Monday. At the same time rallies, signholdings and marches were held in cities around the world. For what happened at Fort Meade, see www.bradleymanning.org. Be sure to go to the photo-stream for pictures.
In Honolulu we showed our support for Bradley in a contingent in the Annual Pride Parade. Several thousand people participated in the parade itself, and thousands more lined Waikiki's Kalakaua Avenue to show their support for contingents organized by LGBTQ organizations, progressive churches, unions, and civil rights organizations. The mood was up-beat and celebratory coming off of recent victories for LGBTQ rights.
World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i has had a contingent in the Pride Parade for many years. Most years our contingent has focused on our opposition to war and torture, and has been warmly welcomed by parade organizers and many of its participants. This year our contingent was led by a big banner reading “Humanity and the Planet Come First” and was followed by two trucks – one decorated to show support for Bradley Manning and the other to Demand an end to Drone Warfare – along with marchers.
The first truck was decorated with big pictures of Bradley Manning, along with signs reading “Telling the Truth about War Crimes Is Not a Crime.” Drummers on board kept up a loud and energetic beat.
The second truck carried our awesome drone replica, signs reading “Stop the Killer Drones”, and a World Can’t Wait organizer who kept up a steady chant to the beat of the drums. For the entire three-mile route “Free, Free, Free Bradley Manning” and “Stop, Stop, Stop the Drones” echoed through the dense labyrinth of hotels.
All along the route people clapped, cheered, and gave us a shaka or thumbs-up. Some yelled their support for Bradley, others sat along the curb and clapped. A few made gestures showing their disagreement. A few ran up to the truck and asked who made the drone. It was notable that many of the tourists from Japan along the route seemed to immediately recognize Bradley and showed enthusiastic support for Bradley and opposition to the drones.
Thousands of spectators held up their cameras, cell phones and i-pads to take pictures, and photos of our contingent have already hit social media. That the International Day of Support for Bradley Manning happened to be on the same day as the Pride Parade in Hawai`i turned out to offer us an awesome opportunity to show our support for Bradley at this event and also reach thousands of international and mainland visitors as well as locals who come out to support LGBTQ rights! We may not be what was expected at a Pride Parade, but the response showed overwhelming support.
Cindy Sheehan joined local protesters in Chicago Monday June 3, 2013, the day Bradley Manning's trial started. Cindy is biking across the country against war on her Tour de Peace.