Ah, the sweet rainbow flavor of comeuppance. As the fascinating and part-tragic, part-inspiring saga of Chelsea Manning continues to unfold, at least one portion of the struggle has reached a satisfying conclusion.
(Updated below with a response from Manning supporters, who held a press conference yesterday outside Pride HQ and drew attention to the Pride board's own violations of its rules.)
At a feisty community meeting last week, the SF Pride board had set June 7 as a deadline for reconsidering its controversial decision to strip Bradley Manning of his grand marshalship. Late in the day today, Pride issued a statement saying that the community proposals to reinstate Manning had failed to garner consensus majority within the board.
The "Wikileaks court-martial" of Bradley Manning began yesterday -- as predicted, it opened "with dueling portrayals of a traitor who endangered the lives of his fellow soldiers [the government's characterization] and of a principled protester motivated by a desire to help society who carefully selected which documents to release [Manning's defense]," writes Charlie Savage in the New York Times.
As that was happening, the SF Trans March stated on its Facebook page, "The San Francisco Trans March will be honoring Bradley Manning on June 28th at the opening of the 2013 PRIDE weekend!!" Manning has identified as transgender; the Trans March organizers stated that they are "retaining Manning's male name and pronoun at the request of his people." (If Manning's attorneys do indeed introduce gender dysphoria as a defense strategy, as they have stated, it will certainly add another layer to this complex story.)
OPINION And so Pride has come to this: what began as a ragtag, radical potluck of perverts, fairies, and criminals (which is what we were in the early 1970s), celebrating the grassroots uprising that birthed the gay rights movement, is now a sleek, corporate-sponsored, multimillion dollar mega-event that refuses to engage with its own community.Read more »
Over the weekend, Pride posted a Facebook note saying that, despite its promises, it would not be holding a public meeting to address its horrible handling of the Bradley Manning for Grand Marshal scandal until after Pride, and that "SF Pride’s decision concerning the election process of Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal being consistent with SF Pride’s long-standing Grand Marshal election policy is firm. Thus, the discussion of that matter is closed for this year."
People were not very happy about this. Last night a well-attended "mock Pride board meeting" protest was held, with a row of empty chairs symbolizing Pride's absence of leadership.
Now Supervisor David Campos has issued a stern letter to the Pride Board, citing Pride's status as a city-funded organization and its failure to operate with transparency, and advising them to meet with the public before the festival at the end of June.
"Let the press in! Let the press in!" the crowd of about 50-60 Bradley Manning for Grand Marshal supporters chanted yesterday evening at 7pm, packed into the lobby of the Golden Gate Business Association on Pearl Street, after being denied entrance to the elevator leading to the Pride Board meeting on the fourth floor. A hired security guard held the crowd, which included reporters from KTVU and KQED, back and the elevator doors closed for the last time as "No cameras, no justice!" filled the air.
The word came via the significant police presence outside the building (officers were also posted outside the building's stairwell) that only 15 people at a time were being allowed into the board meeting, which was held to accept "public comment" on the Bradley manning controversy. The meeting was also supposedly held to address any questions about its official statement, released yesterday afternoon, rescinding Manning's election as Grand Marshal because he was "not local."
Here's the official statement just issued by the Pride SF Board about the Bradley Manning grand marshal fiasco, "clarifying" its bizarre rules ("Under longstanding policy, the community grand marshal upon whom the Electoral College votes is defined as 'a local hero (individual) not being a celebrity'"), and directing the electoral college to vote for one of "two, duly qualified nominees for the 2013 Community Grand Marshal: Bebe Sweetbriar and Associate Justice Jim Humes."