Update 6/2/13: Thousand rally for Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade
Photo right: Thousand march on Fort Meade, 1 June 2013, by Nathan Fuller
A 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.
Press advisory was originally titled “Nearly two thousand rally for Bradley Manning at Ft. Meade”. However, after reviewing video from the march, we believe that number was about one thousand. Video shows approximately 800 marched from Reece Road to Llewellyn Ave along US 175, we had crews stationary at both rally locations, and we had shuttles drive those who could not walk that distance in the sun. Additionally, we know that 100 to 200 individuals were prevented from attending the rally and march by police roadblocks that were erected miles away at approximately 12:45 pm–15 minutes before the announced gather time, and 45 minutes before the scheduled program began. The roadblocks had no apparent rational, beyond blocking the approach to the gathering location via east on US 175 and the designated parking lots via both east on US 175 and west on Reece Road. Title changed and this note added on 5 June 2013 by Jeff Paterson, Bradley Manning Support Network steering committee.