5 reasons to attend Army whistleblower Bradley Manning’s trial
*Please note that this next week court is not in session on Monday (6/24), Tuesday will be a short day, and the trial will resume as normal Wednesday (6/26) at 9:30am, with our weekly vigil taking place from 7-8am that day.
#1: Show the judge the public is watching her
At the beginning of each day of trial, the prosecuting attorney stands and reads to the court information about the levels of public attendance. During most days of the court martial, seats have remained free in the courtroom, and the overflow trailer which provides video feed of the proceedings has remained unused. We hope you’ll help us to change this.
Judge Lind knows that a high-profile case like this one will be part of her legacy. She’s not supposed to read any news about the trial, but there’s no more direct way to show her the importance that her decisions will have for the public than by members of the public taking it upon themselves to fill up her courtroom.
#2: Your attendance means a lot to Bradley and his lawyer
Bradley Manning is a 25 year-old with a conscience who has already spent three years of his life behind bars, and faces potential life imprisonment, all for trying to serve the public good. Despite the gravity of his situation, he maintains optimism, and his attorney David Coombs has explained that his supporters have a lot to do with that.
Mr. Coombs took the opportunity at a public presentation last December to personally thank those who attend the court proceedings and explain how much it means to him:
When I’m in the courtroom, I stand up and I look to my right and I see the United States government, the United States government with all of its resources, all of its personnel. I see them standing against me and Brad, and I have to admit to you that can be rather intimidating and I was intimidated, especially when the President of the United States says, “Your client broke the law.” Especially, when Congress members say, “Your client deserves the death penalty.” I want to tell you, though, today as I stand here, I’m no longer intimidated. I am not intimidated because when I stand up, I know I’m not standing alone. I know I’m not alone because I turn around and I see the support behind me. I see members here today in the audience that are there every time we have a court hearing. I see, what now I’m going to affectionately call the “truth battalion,” those who wear… a black shirt, it has the word “truth” on it and they’re behind me. I look there and I know that I also have unlimited personnel and unlimited resources.
#3: Observe history in action
What happens during Bradley’s trial will affect the future of American journalism and whistleblowing, as well as our fundamental right to know what our government does in our name and with our tax dollars. The legal theory being used by the government to charge Bradley with “Aiding the Enemy” would apply to others who reveal government wrongdoing whether they release 1 document or 1,000, and whether they give information to WikiLeaks or the New York Times. Nobel Peace Laureates, the L.A. Times editorial board, Harvard Law professors, a former State Department Spokesperson and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg all have condemned this charge.
BUT, this trial will not be televised, so attending as a public observer is the only way to see firsthand the precedent that is being set for future generations, and to watch the important players in action.
Decades from now, people will still be discussing this trial. Wouldn’t you like to be able to tell your children and grandchildren that you were there when it mattered?
#4: Communicate to the media this is an issue worth covering
There may always be something new taking over the airwaves, but major U.S. newspapers still send their reporters to cover Bradley’s trial every day it’s in session. While sitting in the media center, reporters can see whether or not public is in attendance in the Ft. Meade courtroom. They often come to conduct interviews with supporters during court recess.
Since attendance at the court martial is one of the most obvious gauges of public interest in the trial that these reporters get to see, the more people who attend the proceedings, the more these papers’ editors will view this as an issue worthy of their front page.
#5: Meet other activists
Interesting people attend the trial from all over the country, and sometimes even the world. There are anti-war veterans from Maryland, lawyers from DC, artists from New York, school teachers from Michigan, and writers from California. And one thing they all have in common is an understanding of the importance this trial carries for one brave young man’s life, as well as our ability as citizens promote transparency in government, and to stop unjust war and human rights violations worldwide.
More importantly, they all know it’s up to us to address these issues and take action to make our world a better place. As we say in our solidarity campaign, “we are all Bradley Manning.”
So come to the trial, earn a truth t-shirt, show Bradley and Judge Lind your support in-person, and meet interesting people you’ll be glad to know well into the future. See directions to the courtroom below.
Getting to Ft. Meade to attend the trial
Any member of the public with government-issued ID is welcome to attend.
Check the Upcoming Events section on www.bradleymanning.org for updates to the trial schedule.
Driving to the Front Gate at Maryland 175 and Reece Rd is the easiest way to access the base (get directions via Google maps). If driving, make sure you have up-to-date vehicle registration and driver’s license. The courtroom is at 4432 Llewellyn Avenue, Fort Meade, MD. (After entering through Main Gate security, go down Reece Rd until you get to Cooper Rd, and then turn left. The courtroom parking lot is at the end of Cooper Rd, where it intersects with Llewellyn Ave.) There is usually parking available near the courtroom. There are no electronic devices allowed through the security check to enter the courtroom–you must leave your mobile phone in your vehicle (or someone’s vehicle). If you wish to attend the morning court session, we recommend arriving on base at 8:30am in order to clear security before court starts at 9:30am. If arriving later you will still be able to enter during a court recess.
Don’t have access to a car? Someone from BMSN or a carpool driver can pick you up from Odenton MARC station if you arrive there by 8:30am. E-mail [email protected] by 6pm the day before to guarantee a pickup.
If arriving later without a car, the Odenton MARC station is three miles from the entrance to Ft. Meade and is a walk-able or bike-able road if you so desire. You can also call a Maryland cab to pick you up and take you onto the base.
The first day that court is in session each week, we have a vigil from 7-8am in front of the Main Gate at 175 Maryland and Reece Rd. E-mail [email protected] for vigil updates.
Thank you for supporting Bradley!