Chelsea Manning Support Network coming to an end
A message from the Chelsea Manning Support Network Steering Committee
December 1, 2016
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be bringing the Chelsea Manning Support Network to an end. We will be transferring the chelseamanning.org domain to representatives of Chelsea Manning on February 1, 2017, for a new website that will launch early in 2017.
We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the many tens of thousands of supporters worldwide who joined together to support this campaign, going all the way back to the days following Chelsea’s arrest in Iraq, June 2010. With your help, we were able to successfully cover 100% of Chelsea Manning’s legal fees throughout her court martial (nearly $400,000) and mount a huge publicity campaign to raise awareness about her situation. We are also deeply proud to have contributed toward the ongoing legal fees associated with Chelsea’s appeal (over $400,000).
It has been our honor to dedicate the last six years to advocating for the freedom of Chelsea Manning. Over 25,000 individuals donated $1.5 million leading up to and during Chelsea’s initial trial. During this time, we paid her legal bills in full, organized over 600,000 people to sign petitions in support of Chelsea, staged hundreds of events, rented billboards, purchased a New York Times ad, and rallied thousands to take to the street—at Fort Meade, Fort Leavenworth, Quantico Marine Base, and around the world. We are extremely proud of these efforts.
None of us believe that the work is done; however, it’s clear to those that know Chelsea best, that it’s time for a new, and different type of group, to best meet her needs going forward.
We are deeply grateful to donors, volunteers, individuals who attended Chelsea Manning Support Network events, all those who publicly spoke out in defense of Chelsea, former staff members, the advisory board, and so many other people who helped make this campaign possible. We also thank our fiscal manager, Courage to Resist, and the umbrella fiscal sponsor, Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ).
Many will still wonder why we are closing the doors of this organization now, when Chelsea is still in prison and thus still needs support. There are a few reasons for this.
Things have changed a lot in the last six years. When we first founded the Chelsea Manning Support Network, and for many years after, we operated with no direct communication from Chelsea. The website we created thus reflects the (often diverse) views of her supporters and fans, not of Chelsea herself. Now that Chelsea is able to speak out publicly, it’s appropriate that her message take center stage. We are stepping aside in order to amplify her voice and message, letting that take center stage in the advocacy efforts going forward.
Additionally, since the end of the court martial, we have seen a drop off in donations, and we no longer have any paid staff at the Chelsea Manning Support Network. We transfer nearly all of the few funds we do receive to Chelsea’s attorneys to help cover the costs of her appeal. Even responding to inquiries from supporters, maintaining the website, and depositing checks are burdensome tasks without even a part time helper in the office. At the same time, we’ve seen amazing organizations stepping up to spread the word about Chelsea’s situation, and we recognize that these organizations are better poised to provide long-term support for Chelsea’s needs.
We expect that supporters will soon be able to donate to Chelsea Manning’s defense fund via a new fiscal manager. For now, you can continue to donate to Chelsea’s defense at chelseamanning.org/donate. After February 1, 2017, we expect that there will be instructions on the new website with details of how to donate to Chelsea’s defense and advocacy. You may also contribute directly to Chelsea Manning’s legal fees by making a check payable to “FBH IOLTA”, noting “Manning” on memo line (and on an enclosed note), and mailing it directly to Chelsea’s legal team at: FBH, 20 First Plaza, Suite 700, Albuquerque, NM 87102.
The Chelsea Manning Support Network’s online materials will be available on chelseamanning.org until February 1, 2017, after which time the materials currently hosted will only be available through the Internet Archive. Please note that if there are any materials you want from chelseamanning.org—photos, trial coverage, press releases, etc.—you should download a copy now. Individuals who want a copy of the entire site are welcome to mirror it elsewhere.
Our Facebook community, “Free whistleblower Chelsea Manning (@savemanning)”, with 97,000 likes, will be transferred to the new organizers. The Chelsea Manning Support Network will also distribute email announcements of this development, so that current supporters can follow these new efforts. Finally, any remaining funds held by the Chelsea Manning Defense Fund hosted by Courage to Resist, on behalf of the Chelsea Manning Support Network, will be transferred to Chelsea’s attorney and/or to a group Chelsea indicates.
Thanks to everyone who courageously spoke out for Chelsea Manning over the last six years. We are proud of the work we accomplished together and look forward to seeing what Chelsea Manning will accomplish in the future.
Jeff Paterson, Rainey Reitman, Kevin Zeese, Gerry Condon, Bob Meola
Chelsea Manning Support Network
Chelsea Manning Support Network fiscal reports available include our summary of the first 18 months of the appeals phase (Jan. 2014 – Jun. 2015) [PDF LINK], as well as the pretrial and trial history (Jul. 2010-Dec. 2013) [PDF LINK]. The final report covering the last 19 months of our Support Network’s efforts during this appeals phase (Jul. 2015-Jan. 2017) is forthcoming.