Veterans and supporters rally for Bradley at Fort Leavenworth
June 4th, 2011. Approximately 250 supporters —including many veterans—converged today at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas to rally for Bradley Manning. Supporters arrived from across the country and held large colorful signs that said, “Free Bradley Manning, Hero, Whistle-Blower.” They gathered at Bob Dougherty Memorial Park where they staged a rally with speakers and music for one hour. Then they marched several blocks to the main entrance of Fort Leavenworth, where Bradley Manning is held.
View our photos of the event on flickr.
During the rally, speakers called on the Obama Administration to protect whistle-blowers and to drop all charges against the Army private.
This was the first large public rally to support Bradley Manning since he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth. He was transferred on April 20, 2011, after having suffered under extreme and unusual confinement conditions at US Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. During the nine months at Quantico, Manning was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, and sunlight, and was at times kept completely naked.
The Bradley Manning Support Network worked with other local and national groups to organize the rally. Members from two veterans’ organizations—Veterans For Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War—comprised a large part of the turnout, including members of Operation Recovery, soldiers opposing the redeployment of traumatized troops, who drove from Fort Hood, Texas, to attend the rally.
“Bradley Manning is a fellow soldier,” said Brian Wolfe, a Lawrence Kansas-based Army Veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. “If a fellow soldier is punished for taking his oath to defend the constitution seriously, what does that mean for our military and for our democracy?”
The information that Bradley Manning is accused of revealing includes the videotaped massacre of Reuters journalists and Iraqi civilians, as well as diplomatic cables that experts believe helped to catalyze democratic revolts across the Middle East this spring.
Referencing the “Arab Spring”, a 16-foot high banner read, “Freedom for Bradley Manning, American Hero. Let Freedom Ring from Leavenworth to Tahrir, Egypt.”
“The information Bradley Manning is accused of releasing should have been in the public domain. Whoever revealed it is an American hero.” said Jeff Paterson, who spoke at the rally on behalf of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “Our leaders in Washington need to return to American principles of transparent and accountable government. That starts with protecting—not prosecuting—whistle-blowers and dropping all charges against Bradley Manning.”
Supporters and campaign organizers from a variety of organizations held a meeting after the rally to talk about next steps in the campaign.
Democracy Now! (news headline): http://www.democracynow.org/2011/6/6/headlines/hundreds_protest_at_kansas_military_base_for_manning_release
Fox News (local affiliate): http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/06/04/supporters-wikileaks-suspect-to-hold-rally-at-kansas-prison/