7:45 p.m., June 29
Manning supporters rally in wake of verdict
Supporters of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence analyst who admitted leaking documents and video to the infamous WikiLeaks website, expressed mixed emotions at a rally in Hillcrest yesterday evening (July 30), after a military judge found Manning guilty on 17 of the 22 charges he was facing while granting acquittal on the most serious charge: aiding the enemy.
The rally was quickly organized Monday on word that a verdict would be issued the following day, but activists admit they weren’t sure what to expect.
“Honestly, I think we’re all kind of shocked,” Gabriel Conaway, a field coordinator for Canvass For a Cause, a progressive and gay rights group, tells the Reader.
“Aiding the enemy was such an extreme charge that it obviously should have been dropped,” Conaway continues. “But [Manning] is still facing a bunch of ridiculous charges. But with the way things have gone with this judge, we’re kind of hoping for the best and expecting the worst.”
The worst, in this case, is a sentence of up to 150 years’ imprisonment – Manning’s lawyers had offered guilty pleas on many of the charges in exchange for a 20-year sentence before the trial, but that request was denied. Most protesters echoed Conaway’s sentiments of hope for leniency in sentencing, and said that more demonstrations could be in the works, and expressed the belief that their activism was igniting exactly the debate Manning hoped to start by choosing to leak military documents.
“Manning’s main goal was to create debate and reform,” Conaway said. “Every time we’re out here getting his message into the community, we’re doing just that.”
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