For over three hours on Oct. 12, tens of thousands of Atlanta Pride marchers passed by stationary teams on both sides of Peachtree Street with banners and leaflets calling for freedom for Chelsea Manning, the anti-war whistleblower.
Upon spotting the banners reading, “Free Chelsea Manning! Jail War Criminals,”countless participants reached for flyers, cheered, gave a thumbs-up or chanted “Free Chelsea.”
The flyer promoted an Oct. 29 teach-in on Chelsea Manning’s heroic actions in the context of broader anti-imperialist and anti-repression struggles, particularly by queer and trans people.
On Oct. 11, the same banners were carried in the annual trans march that saw hundreds of people filling multiple blocks of midtown Atlanta streets.
In 2010, the military intelligence analyst then known as Bradley Manning released some 750,000 documents to Wikileaks, revealing the lies and misinformation being told to the U.S. public about the war in Iraq.
Manning was jailed, court-martialed in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Manning announced her transition to Chelsea Manning while in federal custody. Her sentence was commuted to time served in 2017.
She has steadfastly refused since early 2019 to testify before a secret grand jury seeking the extradition of Julian Assange, the publisher of those documents. Manning is currently being held in an Alexandria, Va., jail on contempt charges.
For the many who were unaware of the current case of Chelsea Manning, the solidarity action by activists of Atlanta’s trans and anti-war organizations brought needed information.
The Atlanta Pride festivities rank among the largest in the U.S. with LGBTQ2+ people coming from across the U.S. and other countries to celebrate the diversity and resilience of their community to overcome state and social discrimination and repression.
Scores of major international corporations as well as local businesses had contingents of their LGBTQ2+ workers clad in company-themed Pride T-shirts, which dominated the march. There was only one, very visible union marching, the International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees.
The Chelsea Manning unit represented progressive politics in a sea of corporatization.
Additionally, students from area high schools and colleges, congregants from numerous churches, members of LGBTQ2+ service organizations, decorated floats from clubs and restaurants, several LGBTQ2+ bands and multiple politicians with their supporters marched in intermittent rain past tens of thousands of energetic and loud parade watchers.
Workers World Party is proud to be a sponsoring organization of these efforts to raise awareness of Chelsea Manning’s important role in exposing the war crimes of the U.S.