The federal government considers Pfc. Bradley Manning to be a traitor who deserves to spend life in prison for allegedly leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
But the Oakland-based anti-war group, Courage to Resist, is asking participants in the 42nd annual Pride parade Sunday to march in celebration of the imprisoned gay intelligence analyst as a hero.
“We have positive outcomes from the documents that were released by Manning and has made him a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Emma Cape, main organizer of the march. “We want to show people that both the LGBT members and allies embrace him as an American hero.”
Manning, 24, was arrested in May 2010 and accused of sharing more than 700,000 diplomatic cables, Army war logs and videos of military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was held for roughly 10 months in solitary confinement before being transferred to a medium-security jail at Fort Leavenworth. He awaits trial.
The WikiLeaks disclosures represented the largest-ever public release of restricted or classified U.S. government documents.
Courage to Resist’s Mike McKee regards Manning as an influential gay soldier. “Everyone is invited to join this special contingent in support of Manning, whether you celebrate him as a soldier, a whistle-blower or a prominent gay figure,” McKee said.
Last year, a similar march on behalf of Manning had about 80-100 participants. This year, supporters hope to double the number of marchers.
“The turnout last year was strong but the prosecution is heating up this year,” Cape said, adding that the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil libertarians have accused the government of overreaching in the prosecution of Manning because its interpretation of aiding the enemy is overly broad.