- New York City 07/03/2014 by Linda Perry, Jack Shalom (WBAI)
A new contingent surfaced in New York City at the Gay Pride Parade Sunday, the Chelsea Manning contingent.
Marchers carried a large blue banner which read Free Chelsea. A large portrait of Manning with long blonde hair was under the words heroic Wikileaks whistleblower, former U.S. Army intel analyst pfc Chelsea Manning.
Activist Vanessa Banty marched to support Manning.
"It's important to make the lgbt community aware that Chelsea is out, she’s trans and she’s serving an extremely unjust prison sentence right now."
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison a little over a year ago for leaking documents and a video to Julian Assange of Wikileaks. She exposed the detainment of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay and the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
She exposed the Collateral Murder video. It showed unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists killed by a U.S. Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. ’
Manning released The Afghan War Diary which reveals uninvestigated civilian casualties and abuse by contractors, and the Iraq War Logs which show civilian casualties, and uninvestigated reports of torture, also the US diplomatic cables. They point to the role that corporate interests and spying plays in international diplomacy.
The Army private was incarcerated for three years before trial in what UN Special Rapporteur for Torture, Jose Mendez, said was "cruel and unusual treatment."
“After her sentencing Chelsea came out as trans, previously Bradley Manning.”
Elias Holtz is with the Freedom Socialist Party
“ I think it’s a testament to how repressive the U.S. Governement is and the U.S. Military is both inside and out. She had to wait through this whole trial to come out as a trans person."
Holtz says it also speaks to her strength.
“Because she found her true self, and I think she’s a very principled person who is willing to sacrifice her comfort for her ideas and that’s why it’s so important to advocate for her.”
Banty says from her vantage it’s great to know there are people who care about issues like the Iraq War.
“Chelsea was stationed in Iraq and she saw very unjust things happening and she decided to act, which I think is super important. It has inspired me as an activist. You know if Chelsea can be that brave and risk her life and every aspect of her life to release this information that the public needs to know, then surely I can come to a march or I can go and convince people to be more active.”
For more on Chelsea Manning go to her support network. http://www.chelseamanning.org