The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Supporters protest Manning’s detention

  • A crowd of supporters were in Leavenworth Saturday to protest the holding of a prisoner on Fort Leavenworth suspected of leaking thousands of documents to the website Wikileaks.


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  • A crowd of supporters were in Leavenworth Saturday to protest the holding of a prisoner on Fort Leavenworth suspected of leaking thousands of documents to the website Wikileaks.
    The Rally for Bradley Manning drew people from across the state and from areas like Chicago and Oakland, Calif. — close to 200 people in all, according to one of the event’s local organizers, Jim Davidson of Lawrence, Kan.
    The event started at Leavenworth’s Bob Dougherty Park, where Davidson said about 15 speakers from different organizations supporting Manning’s release, from Iraq Veterans Against the War to gay rights organizations, addressed the crowd before a march to the intersection of Seventh Street and Metropolitan Avenue, in front of Fort Leavenworth’s Grant Gate.
    There for about an hour, the protesters chanted and held signs and large banners, soliciting a variety of reactions from passers by.
    Though the odd protester has been seen at Metropolitan and Seventh before, Saturday’s event was the first large demonstration in Leavenworth for Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army private who is suspected to be the inside source who leaked thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, an online organization that publishes such documents.
    Manning was taken into custody in May 2010 and detained at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. He was moved to the Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility on post in April following allegations of mistreatment at the former location, including being forced to sleep in his underwear without blankets.
    But without having yet been officially charged with any crime, Davidson said those who attended the rally still felt Manning’s human and constitutional rights continued to be violated.
    “They have to follow a process,” he said. “That’s our main concern, is that the due process of law is an important aspect of this and if people are going to be accused of crimes, one of the first things in the due process is to charge them and our understanding is that Bradley actually has not been charged.”
    Brad Spangler, who said his media website Center for a Stateless Society had just published a special report on Manning's case, said he felt Manning is being made into an example.
    “It’s an obvious political persecution of a whistleblower,” he said.
    On the other side of Metropolitan Avenue was a smaller group of protesters who took an opposite view of Manning’s detention. Shana Moriarty, a military spouse who was holding a sign that said “traitors kill soldiers,” said she decided to come out with some friends to support the other side of the argument over Manning’s treatment.
    “We’re supporting our husbands, and our lifestyle,” she said.
    Melissa Smith, who was also a military spouse, said she thought those who were protesting did not understand the possible ramifications of Manning’s actions on those currently serving.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I think it’s a waste of their breath. He’s not getting out — he’s a traitor,” she said, later adding, “that man endangered thousands and thousands and thousands of troops.”
    Davidson said he understands that a hearing is scheduled soon for Manning, though he said he did not know the exact date. He said the plans are to continue to raise funds for Manning’s legal fees and other support efforts.
    Spangler said plans had also already been discussed to come back to Leavenworth for another rally in the fall.
    “We’re planning to be doing this for the long haul,” he said.
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