NB. the second half of this post is devoted to solidarity REPORTS and PHOTOS (plus a video) – scroll down to the eighth heading if you want to get straight to these! (this post refers to Brad and Bradley as well as Chelsea because it is an #afterthesentence post, was started on Weds – and reflects our own transition…)
A LITTLE AFTER 10AM (our 3pm) 21ST AUG BRAD SENTENCED TO 35YRS
So after 3 years, 12 weeks and 4 days, Bradley escaped the death penalty, avoided life without parole (PLUS 136 years ffs), ducked the 136 years, saw off 90 years and was finally sentenced to 35 years.
Yet, as the sentence was pronounced, despite it’s being, as WikiLeaks put it, ‘a significant strategic victory’, some people in the court room burst into tears, some gasped with shock because, in spite of whatitcouldhavebeen, 35 years IS shocking. For a start it’s TEN years longer than oh so young Bradley E Manning has even lived so far and yet without allowances and parole taken into account it would render him a prisoner until he was 60.
AN EXEMPLARY HUMAN
And for another, more important, thing; he hasn’t done anything wrong, far from it; he has proved himself to be exemplary – someone whose conscience is a functional organ, someone who not only cares but takes costly action because they do. In our sleazy little world that stands out. It’s one of the ways we have come to identify a true leader of our beleaguered species…
Bradley (convicted military prisoners are not allowed to make public statements, be interviewed or even be photographed after being sentenced) was hustled out immediately as supporters who filled the court defied the Judge’s instructions and called out love and support after him. Clark of WikiLeaksTruck fame twought aloud that it was a good job he was already banned from the court (meaning that the improprieties he might have committed at that point would have been very loud and his swearing not legal). The hypocrisy and sheer villainy, not to mention the grief, meant that it was impossible for most supporters not to have some immediate and vocal response.
Once out of the courtroom Bradley was permitted time to say goodbye to his aunt, cousins and legal team. All of whom were in tears. And, as he told us yesterday, David Coombs then found himself in the extraordinary situation of being comforted by his client instead of the other way round. Bradley’s aunt said of Bradley later, ‘he was the one who was being strong!’ Because Bradley reportedly said to them:
‘Hey, it’s OK. It’s all right. I know you did everything you could for me. Don’t cry. Be happy. It’s fine. This is just a stage in my life. I am moving forward. I will recover from this’
What an exit.
So what happens next is that the initial appeals (to the convening authority, to the president for a pardon or commuting of the sentence) go forward before the formal military appeals process kicks in (and this formal appeals process can, theoretically, eventually leave the military system and end up in the Supreme Court). To support the initial appeals see this post where you can find details of the actions you can take including a link to the excellent new campaign website (Bradley Manning Support Network with Amnesty International) for petitioning the president. Watch the video – it’s very good – then take action.
Any sentence over 30 years is up for parole when a third of it has been served; in Bradley’s case, because he has served 3 years already, he will be eligible for parole after 7 years. And with good behaviour he can ‘earn’ up to 120 days a year off his sentence.
DAVID COOMBS DISCUSSES THE CASE
David Coombs is surely the best possible lawyer Bradley, and we, the public, could have had to advocate for us in this pivotal case, which has been as much ‘Bradley Manning (on our behalf) v The United States’ as it has been ‘The United States v Bradley Manning’.
picture of Judge Denise Lind by Clark Stoeckley our ‘official’ trial artist
Throughout the proceedings David Coombs and the team have been focused on the interests of his client as expressed by the client. And we know from what we were told early on by his aunt, what we had also sensed from intimations of Brad’s demeanour and expressions in the courtroom, that Bradley was delighted with his counsel. What Bradley said he sought from the beginning was
worldwide discussions debates and reforms
He sought to bring to us, the public, the on-the-ground truth of critical issues of great international importance, in order that we could begin, from the actual truth, to evaluate what was happening and take decisions about what we felt should be done about it, and how we thought things should change. He said
without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public
and he obviously felt that this was the beginning of any change – that the information itself be revealed.
David Coombs has firmly rooted his advocacy in this base understanding, as well as in respect for Bradley and a genuine concern for his welfare. He has conducted this case in a way we rarely see in a court of law. Shunning dissembling and duplicity, he has meticulously presented the truth truthfully in a courtroom where truth was on trial; a holistic approach that one lawyer said could prove to be a model (sorry, no reference – think it was @emptywheel!), and an approach that was demonstrably the polar opposite of the way in which the prosecution counsel for USG pursued this case.
In this interview with Alexa O’Brien, David Coombs clarifies many of the issues, gives a thorough evaluation of the case and discuss how it highlights the state of America is now. A fuller version has been up at Democracy Now! since yesterday, but here now is the whole thing from the Sparrow Project – WATCH!
Later David Coombs, people from Bradley Manning Support Network, Amnesty International etc spoke at this momentous press conference and David Coombs spent time answering questions. The question sessions are here and here on the u-stream.
He read out Bradley’s latest communique – the letter that will accompany his appeal to Obama for a presidential pardon – another remarkable statement. More like throwing down the gauntlet? Read it for yourself.
OTHER STATEMENTS AND REPORTS
Statement from Peter Tatchell here
ON THE STREETS
And there were gatherings planned, some of which went ahead on Weds and some carried over till Thurs. All those that had been planned for earlier in the day were held over but the later ones took place on the Weds. At Menwith Hill CAAB remembered Bradley at 3pm as the sentence was due, as did the Anti War Alliance in Galway; in Peterborough it was 4pm; in London people gathered at Calder Bookshop & Theatre at 5pm and then at the US Embassy at 6pm; in Wales near Brad’s maternal home town, they gathered near Newport at 6pm
Here are some pictures – get the horse! – and reports, with some still to follow.
Newport Weds 6pm and Haverfordwest Thurs 12.30pm
As well as going to the centre of Haverfordwest on Thursday 22nd at lunchtime to mark the sentence in the town in which Bradley lived between 2001 and 2005, and in which his maternal family still live, people gathered on Wednesday evening near Newport (Pembs) a few miles away, as much to celebrate what Bradley did for us and the sacrifice made, as to protest the sentence. These photos were taken at that event on the Thursday evening.
What a brilliant slogan this is!
NORTH EAST WALES
Wrexham Thursday morning
On Thursday morning, supporters met in Queens Square, Wrexham to hand out flyers for The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning livestream. There was positive feedback from people in town with many stopping to discuss the trial, sentence and likely appeals.
Galway Weds 21st 12 noon
Galway Alliance Against War called for people to gather in the city centre meeting Lynch’s Castle, Shop St. on Wednesday between 12 noon and 2pm.
They subsequently issued this press release:
MANNING’S SENTENCE “BARBARIC”
Today in Galway’s city centre members of the local peace group, the Galway Alliance Against War, held a two hour vigil as part of an international protest in solidarity with Bradley Manning, to coincide with his sentencing on charges of leaking to Wikileaks information that revealed to the world US war crimes in Iraq.
Responding to the 35 year sentence handed down to Private Manning by a US court martial this afternoon, GAAW’s PRO, Niall Farrell said:
“Barbaric is the word that comes to mind. But barbarism is what we have come to expect from the warmongers in Washington. They cannot stomach the truth of their crimes leaking out. Bradley Manning is a brave young man who exposed war crimes, he should be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize not a 35 year jail term. The Irish Government should raise his plight at the UN Human Rights Commission. ”
Dublin Thursday 22nd afternoon
People gathered to protest outside the US Embassy in Dublin on Thursday 22nd resulting in the video below. The statement that will accompany the appeal for clemency or presidential pardon was read out as part of this protest.
“Public accountability is essential to democracy. We can’t have meaningful ‘consent of the governed’ without informed consent. We can’t have moral responsibility without challenging official hypocrisies and atrocities.”
Central Edinburgh had a moments silence in the middle of it’s busy “Fringe Fest”, whether it knew it was coming or not…..
I decided to come up to Edinburgh last week to support and campaign for Bradley during the showing of “RoBM” in the run up to the sentencing hearing.
What that has consisted of mostly has been bannering for Bradley for hours in the busy bustle (hustle, really) of the Edinburgh fringers busking, contacting and flyering the general public (very busy!) And handing out leaflets and answering questions at the end of each performance.
What I really hoped for from this experience was a lot of media contact (being the Fringe) to boost the Major General’s number in the public consciousness. Mostly it been a lot of direct contact with the public.
A lot of solidarity; Loads of people, from very much all over the world, with half of attendees refreshingly being Edinburgh locals. The massive flyposting that normally buries posters under one another in 5 minutes did not apply to the Brad – a BM sticker I posted up has been literally framed by loads of posters over many days, but never covered!NTW people have also been sterling in their support.
When I found out about the sentencing announcement I called an action. Starting at Parliament Sq at 12 noon WEDS 21st, we would walk to the US Consulate in Edinburgh – at 3 Regent TerraceOne of the Attendees at last night’s performance who I recognised was Ron Senchak, an American/Vietnam War resister; who could not make it the next day unfortunately, but gave his support.The Scottish solidarity action, on such short notice, turned out to be just me with the banners, loads of good folks coming by to enquire (and a handful of silly knobs, to be expected).
Shopworkers and performers as well as fringe punters showed solidarity.
I had been following on Twitter. when Nathan Fuller announced “Sentencing Delayed”, I presumed it had been delayed for another day. I went about answering fellow workers questions. Then the text came in. From Ciaron; letting me know about the 35 year sentence.
Words can’t describe what I felt; I’m sure many of us feel the same way and are reeling even now. I can’t say I was not expecting a bad result; but the emotions hit me in the gut – three years of expectation, hard work and THE MASS MURDERERS convicted and consigned Bradley to his horrible fate.I held back for a moment, in rationality; but then I had to let loose; and have an Authentic moment; I Screamed.
Not just screamed; I silenced the whole of the Royal Mile; from North/South Bridge St to the other end. (And I’ve got operaticlungs!), Hundreds of aggressive, middle class, theatre punters and flyering thespians all shut their gob for a little over two minutes (a very long time for them!)Bradley deserved a moments silence, and in Edinburgh he got it!
No regrets. What resonated politically with me about this silence was where do we reclaim social space; on line, in the real world; in our own heads, to pause for conversation about how this world is being run? To have authentic conversations and feelings (even inconveniently bad feelings), even if it interferes with shopping.Bradley has given us such valuable information; much of which has yet to be researched and actuated into use. He clearly inspired Snowden, who learned from Bradley and did it the right way; and will not be caught.
He inspired the Arab Spring, Occupy….No way will we be slowing down. Obama is 10 times worse than Nixon; We, in our work will one day see Bradley free and perhaps Obama in jail; and their Peace Prizes switched! – We should remind Maj Gen Buchanan of this; I’m sure he has living memories of Nixon!
Let’s keep up the good work!
Calder Bookshop & Theatre – Weds 5pm
Calder Bookshop & Theatre is the venue near Waterloo Station which put on a reading of ‘In His Own Words’ – the compilation of what Brad said in the chat with Adrian Lamo specifically relating to his motivation for the leaks – as part of the events on 27th June.
They have posters and leaflets supporting Bradley on display in the shop and were one of the meeting places in London for Weds evening at 5pm.
After spending some time out in the vicinity, LCW and VfPUK people headed to Calder and these photos are from outside the bookshop.
US Embassy Weds 6pm
Following on from earlier London actions, most recently a gathering at the Calder Bookshop (good folks!), individuals came together at the US embassy at 6pm.
This was essentially an open mic event using the megaphone provided by Payday Men’s Network and Queer Strike. Though many familiar faces were present, I sensed an encouraging amount of folks that I didn’t recognise. As people gradually joined, the gathering swelled. I counted around 60 that were listening to the messages of support for the, at the time named, Bradley Manning.
It was fantastic that Vivienne Westwood again came along to speak publicly for Manning, not only to the crowd, but patiently handling a number of press and TV interviews (BBC Newsnight covered the event in a piece that evening) – see it at 16.53. How pertinent, also, given Chelsea’s declaration the next day, that Women Against Rape also again spoke up for Manning, Julian Assange and the victims of the wars they helped to expose.
News of the 35-year sentence was being digested and discussed with a range of views and reactions. Whilst widely expected, it still shocked and angered. Emotional.
For me, the way banners and visuals were laid out, how people had gathered to listen and talk, seemed to encourage others to come and stand. More than usual, passers-by seemed interested in what was going down. With help from others (thank you, you know who you are!) hundreds of Lindi’s leaflets were given out.
It should be mentioned that a very vocal protest by Syrians, seeking western intervention in Syria, developed alongside ours and for a while hindered due to the continuous noise. Eventually, some cooperation was achieved and they showed genuine support for Bradley, when reminded of the atrocities and lies exposed by his whistle blowing.
With whispers of a must-see press conference by David Coombs and a decent amount of connections having been made, the crowds melted away. Feeling was that one chapter had ended, another one about to begin. Pressure to be maintained. Injustice to be corrected.
The fight goes on.
Free Chelsea Manning!
North London Weds 21st evening
Banner drop over the North Circular Road on Wednesday evening.
Early evening, I headed off to a footbridge over the North Circular that my brother and I have identified as a suitable location for a banner drop. At the start of this trial, Bristol cops interfered with my freedom of expression by seizing my banners and embarking on a pantomime of refusing to give them back and threatening their destruction. This culminated in my arrest and the threat of a charge that has yet to materialise, the banners became ‘evidence’ and I lodged a complaint that so far hasn’t resulted in their return. I thought that was bad but this time it’s worse. As I approach the steps on foot, my jaw drops. Someone’s taken the bridge away! That’s a lot of trouble to go to just to stop me putting up a couple of banners. It doesn’t work anyway as I choose a nearby road bridge and display them on there instead.
View of the place where the footbridge used to be
Here are a couple of other photos from a banner drop just along the road last Sunday:
Finsbury Park – Thursday 22nd afternoon
Spent an hour flyering for the play and talking to folk in the Finsbury Park area, during which time we learn that Bradley wishes to be known as Chelsea from here on in, so maybe the last outing for some of these banners.
NSA Menwith Hill Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 21st
As well as making their usual Tuesday evening demo a special Bradley Manning sentencing vigil, CAAB were up at the base in solidarity with Brad again on Wednesday after the sentence had been handed down. Lindis writes:
I went to NSA Menwith Hill just after the verdict was announced. I had encouraged others to come too but I was on my own – not a problem; at least someone was there.
I stayed over an hour and showed an upside down US flag with “THANK YOU BRADLEY MANNING” (Chelsea Manning all along! I am so pleased for her and hope she gets the respect and help she will need in the transition).
Geoff Dickson (newly arrived RAF Liaison officer) came and joined me. We had an interesting conversation! he has no problems concerning NSA Menwith Hill and the Snowden documents (he would say that!).
I stood in front of every car for a few seconds holding the flag. A man in US army military uniform drove out, was stopped and I saw him taking a photo on his mobile phone – for the folks back home?! Perhaps he is on his way to becoming a wonderful whistle blower – you or more to the point ‘they’ never know! There were of course angry people, ‘not bothered’ people but also smiling people driving out of the base – and perhaps whistle blowers in the making!
I refused to do anything that the MDP told me to do.
Photos here from the Tuesday evening:
Wadebridge Thursday 22nd 1pm
Wadebridge in Cornwall is full of people at this time of year and The Platt was the place fixed on for a bit of shouting out about the sentence, with Thursday at 1pm being deemed to be the busiest in the town.
A couple of us met on The Platt which is an excellent area for displaying banners and pictures, as well as distributing leaflets to the many people coming and going.
In a fairly large pedestrianised area right next to a road with traffic slowed down to a crawl we attracted a fair amount of attention. The bored drivers in the crawling cars screwed up their eyes to read the large sign I was holding
and nodding acknowledgement either scowlingly or smilingly! At any rate *everyone* seems to know who you are talking about these days!
There were the usual open hearted gaggles of teenagers delighted to receive stickers and thereby promote Brad’s cause for us, and a crew of young skateboarders thrilled to stick them on their skateboards, who skooted off yelling ‘Free Bradley Manning! after me.
Roland took the other side of the road here:
and between us we managed to distribute lots of the info leaflet, moving on to the BMSN postcards after we ran out.
One very elderly man said: ‘We need MORE whistleblowers’ as he took the leaflet, and several students were pleased to be informed there was a support network for Wales Ireland Scotland and England. Several people stopped to be filled in on the case or ask specific questions. The consensus seemed to be that 35 years was shockingly harsh.
What neither Roland nor I DID manage (*FAIL again) was to take any photos…hence the imported images of the space. I had failed EVEN TO BRING A PHONE and Roland’s phone was, well, just NOT….
hence, also, neither of us received the info about Chelsea and her liberation until we returned to our respective homes much later on – ah! Maybe that’s why Bradley was not so dismayed about the sentence! Other than being the courageous individual we have come to recognise, she was anticipating that oh so long awaited moment of release – wow, what a story this is – just goes on and on breaking out – amazing!
Peterborough Wednesday 21st 4pm
On Sunday 25th there is a call out for people to gather in Cathedral Square, Peterborough to protest the sentence, but as an immediate response five supporters were there on Wednesday. Gill reports:
On Tuesday night I put a last minute call out via Peterborough Peace Campaign for a Solidarity Standout on Bradley’s day of sentencing, for 4pm the next day. Resigned to the fact that I may be alone with it being a week day and because of the short notice, I arrived in Cathedral Square.
Surveying the scene I saw there was space for me to tie banners to the pillars of the Corn Exchange, a prime position. So with the help of a couple of young guys who just happened to be sitting on the steps of the Exchange, this is what I did.
This all done some joker decided to switch on the Fountains (but only for half an hour I note) the prime position was not now so prime and also a bit wet. Luckily just at the right time Frank and Zia arrived and helped me to move to the other end of the square where our numbers increased to five.
Once again we had a good response, chatted to many and people in general were very interested and appalled at the sentence. I did a bit of shouting Free Bradley Manning when we held the banner up between us and was told by David:
“This will not be the last time you will be shouting that.”
He did not know how wrong he would be!
Free Chelsea Manning!
MORE ON THE WAY…..