A celebration of Chelsea Manning’s courage

WW photo: Gloria Verdieu

WW photo: Gloria Verdieu

San Diego, Calif., activists marked the one-year anniversary of Chelsea Manning’s coming out as a transperson with a gathering in Hillcrest, Calif., on Aug. 22. There, they celebrated Manning’s courage and raised awareness about transgender issues and the imprisoned hero’s campaign for freedom.

Manning, a U.S. Army private, was sentenced last summer to 35 years imprisonment for releasing documents about U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rally was facilitated by Gabriel Conaway, from San Diego Coalition to Free Manning, which organized the event, and Sean Bohac, of the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality. The local artists’ band NEMO Beats led off the program with a performance. They also read a statement from Manning.

Speakers included Gloria Cruz, of the American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties, who spoke of a pending lawsuit calling for proper medical treatment for Manning. Patricia Gracian read Amnesty International’s statement demanding clemency and the immediate release of Manning.

Gloria Verdieu, of the San Diego Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, read a solidarity statement by Mumia Abu-Jamal, written in June 2013. Another message of support for Manning was given by Veterans for Peace.

There were also speakers from Canvass for a Cause, a rights organization for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people; Women Occupy San Diego; and San Diego Peace and Justice Coalition.

Signs, chanting, street theater and a special cake to celebrate Manning’s courage were part of the program.