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SF Pride Digs in Heels on Bradley Manning Exclusion
Outraged LGBTQ leaders and Manning supporters call for "Grand Marshal, not Court Martial!"
The San Francisco Pride board declared Friday they refuse to reinstate former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal of this massive late-June LGBTQ celebration, in what they say is their final word.
The decision came one hour after a San Francisco rally in support of Manning, part of global solidarity actions as the young former intelligence analyst enters his second week of trial. Manning has been imprisoned for over three years, including more than nine months of solitary confinement.
Manning's supporters launched a press conference outside Pride's office at the scheduled deadline of the announcement. Speakers included San Francisco supervisor David Campos and California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.
The Wikileaks whistleblower was initially nominated as Pride Grand Marshall on April 26th, yet the honor was abruptly stripped away just days later by the SF Pride board, whose president derided Manning as a traitor.
Widespread uproar and protest from LGBTQ communities had forced the board to reconsider its decision to remove Manning's honors, and the Friday announcement prompted outrage among Manning's supporters, who have rallied behind the cry "Grand Marshal, Not Court Martial!"
"It doesn't matter what the pride board does," declared Joey Cain, former SF Pride Grand Marshall who nominated Manning for the role, in a KPFA evening news interview following the board's announcement. "Bradley Manning is the most famous grand marshal, slash non grand marshal, in the whole history of the pride celebration."
Openly queer Bradley Manning, who has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, is accused of leaking thousands of government documents and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks that expose U.S. war crimes. Manning, who is hailed by supporters as a brave whistle blower, faces steep charges at the hands of the military of violating the espionage act and aiding the enemy that could carry the death penalty, although prosecutors are not pushing currently for that punishment. Throughout his trial, Manning has garnered widespread public support from organizations including Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network, with thousands rallying outside his Fort Meade trial June 1st.