Veterans led the way as supporters of imprisoned army private and accused whistleblower Bradley Manning occupied several Obama presidential campaign offices on the west coast. The August 16 sit-ins led to arrests in Oakland, California and Portland, Oregon.
In Oakland, about 100 people participated in the sit-in. Campaign staff eventually agreed to email their letter (see below) to the national headquarters. Six people continued to occupy the office and wait for Obama’s response, but were arrested instead.
In Portland, PDX Bike Swarm led a 20-mile ride in support of Bradley Manning, rallying at three recruiting stations along the way and ending up at the Obama campaign office. Cascadians Against War had protested during the day in support of Manning outside five area recruiting offices, and at 4:00 p.m. demonstrators from all locations converged for a rally at the campaign office. Five people and three journalists entered the office to present a copy of the letter. They were warmly received but refused to leave, and when police came the journalists left and five people were arrested, cited for trespass, and released a short time later from the police station.
The letter delivered in Oakland and Portland, as well as at protests in Seattle, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles, contained these demands:
1. First, that President Obama apologize for the comment he made at a fundraiser in April 2011, regarding PFC Manning’s guilt. Commander-in-Chief Obama stated, “He broke the law,” a sentiment that was later echoed by General Dempsey. This constitutes Unlawful Command Influence, illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which precludes PFC Manning from receiving a fair trial.
2. Second, that President Obama ensures soldiers are free from illegal pretrial punishment. For the first eleven months of his detention, PFC Manning was held in solitary isolation. He was not allowed regular exercise or sunlight, and was even forced to stand at attention naked. U.N. Chief Investigator on Torture Juan Mendez has declared these conditions “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Just this last week, PFC Manning’s defense revealed they have discovered e-mails which show orders to hold him in these inhuman conditions came from a three-star general who ignored the warnings of brig psychologists, and was likely acting with political motive. Though he’s yet to be convicted of any crime, PFC Manning has already been severely punished. We ask that President Obama pardon him of the remaining charges and seek to ensure the international human rights of other service men and women will be respected.
The Bradley Manning Support Network, Afghans For Peace and SF Bay Iraq Veterans Against the War call for nationwide actions at local Obama campaign offices September 6, 2012 during the Democratic National Convention! Free Bradley Manning!