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Protesters Demand Freedom for Bradley Manning

Our sixth day of activities to end indefinite detention, Monday, January 17, focused on Bradley Manning, the alleged source of many of the materials WikiLeaks has been releasing to the press about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We started the day with a protest at the FBI building, where we had a few of us in jump suits holding banners and a larger group o f about 100 activists, many with signs saying “I am Bradley Manning” and with masks that they could hold up to their faces. So we had a sea of Bradley Mannings. We sang to the tune of “We Are Marching in the Light of God” “We want Brad---ley Manning to be free! We want Bradley Manning to be free!” and heard from speakers on the conditions under which he is being held – solitary confinement with no permission even to exercise in his cell. This has been going on for 7 months now. We seemed to be getting some press attention.

From the FBI we formed a convoy and drove to the Quantico Marine Base, where Manning is being held. We rallied there for about an hour. The soldiers in charge of our presence there were quite accommodating, letting us spread out a bit more than they had at first said, but we were still nowhere near where he is being held, and he certainly couldn’t hear us. But we trust he will hear about our being there.

The activities organized by Witness Against Torture, including their fast, go on through Jan 22, the day that President Obama made his announcement that he would close Guantanamo within a year, a deadline which came and went a year ago now. But I took the night train back home in the snow storm on Monday night.

I don’t envy the protesters who will keep up the presence at the White House and the “Justice” Dept with all the snow on the ground for another few days. Hopefully the spirit will be with them. At least the company is very good. It will be a few weeks before we can assess the effect we may have had, but my sense is that our presence was noticed and we can only hope that it had a beneficial effect. 

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