About 70 loud, enthusiastic, chanting individuals, many blowing whistles, took over the four corners of Sixth and University avenues in Hillcrest on June 1. Mostly from the LGBT community and Occupy movement, they called on the U.S. government to free Bradley Manning.
Army PFC Manning has been incarcerated since May 2010 for releasing the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists by a U.S. Apache helicopter crew in Iraq.
Manning’s website also shared documents known as the Afghan War logs, the Iraq War logs, and U.S. diplomatic cables. The documents were later posted on the WikiLeaks website. They revealed the number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, human-rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role of spying and bribes in international affairs.
Sean Bohac, of SAME Alliance and San Diego Green Party, said Manning is a “whistleblower who helped the public understand what their government is doing. Manning spoiled Obama's false narrative about his war policy, that it was successful. He provided a tremendous service to the American public.”
Comparing Manning to Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, Bohac said he's a hero. “He's a queer hero, part of my community,” said Bohac, “and I'm proud of him.”
“Illegal wars were started,” said Michael Thielk of Fallbrook. “Bradley Manning is exposing the truth of these illegal wars. He was outraged by what he saw. He exposed from his conscience. It's a failure of justice.” He added that “the guilty people are George Bush's administration: Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz. These are the war criminals that should be on trial. These are the people who are above the law.”
Christopher McKay, who identifies with Occupy Everywhere, remarked: “Bob Dylan said if something's not right, it's wrong. We have a corporate military for the United States.” As for his outcome at court-martial, McKay said, “Military justice is not justice. I think he's going to do horribly.”
Rhymed chanting, led by those with loudspeakers, was a large part of the two-hour protest. One chant was: “Exposing U.S. crimes of war; that's what he's being tortured for.”
Similar rallies took place in several cities in the U.S. and overseas. This protest was organized by Hillcrest-based San Diego Coalition to Free Bradley Manning. It was endorsed by San Diego Veterans for Peace, Canvass for a Cause, San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, the Peace Resource Center, SAME Alliance, and others.