Chelsea Manning

Bradley Manning Rally in Fort Meade

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“Free Bradley Manning! Arrest Barack Obama!” chanted hundreds of supporters of Bradley Manning, as they marched around Fort Meade, Maryland to protest his court-martial for leaking over 700,000 pages of classified documents.

ReasonTV's Matthew Feeney got on the “Bradley Manning Bus” to meet protesters and find out why they believe it’s important to support a man who faces a possible life sentence for violating the Espionage Act, “aiding the enemy,” and 20 other alleged offenses against the United States government.

Members of activist groups The Bradley Manning Support NetworkIraq Veterans Against the War, The World Can’t Wait, and Code Pink: Women for Peace all saw the rally as an opportunity to change public opinion, while providing moral support for Manning. Given the vast amount of information leaked, protesters also took the opportunity to speak out against related issues, like military drone strikes, government secrecy, and the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

Most protesters said that, as a whistleblower, Manning is a hero who deserves no punishment at all. Activists like Debra Sweet of The World Can't Wait said that unnecessary government secrecy had become so pervasive since the attacks of 9/11, that Manning’s actions were justified to preserve democracy and keep the public informed. Most insisted that the leaked documents harmed no one.

With few exceptions, the protesters were doubtful about Manning’s prospects for a fair trial. Even though he has already plead guilty to some of the charges, his supporters cited the steep burden of proof for defendants in courts-martial, as well as a general distrust of military proceedings, as reasons for their pessimism. Some called for the arrest of President Obama, while many hoped for an executive pardon from the administration.

The organizers promised more demonstrations as the trial continues.

Runs about four minutes.

Shot and edited by Todd Krainin.

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