"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."
"I was one of the 15 former grand marshals on the electoral commission that voted for Bradley Manning," Barry Saiff, former BiNet president, told me over the phone this morning from Washington, DC, about the Bradley Manning Pride grand marshalship controversy. (As one half of a bi-national queer couple, he lives most of the year in the Phillipines with his boyfriend, who is unable to come to the United States due to discriminatory immigration laws.)
To recap: An 'electoral college' of former grand marshals elected the jailed gay (possibly now transgender) whistleblower who provided Wikileaks with a huge dump of raw classified US government info. Someone announced the choice on Friday and the media went nuts. Then the Pride executive director issued this bizarre statement repudiating the decision and rescinding the honor, to the dismay of the electoral college and a huge swath of LGBT locals. A protest at Pride HQ is planned for today, 5pm at 1841 Market, SF.)
"The list of nominees from the other board members was presented to me in March, and the instant I saw Bradley's name on there I knew it was the right choice. Pride stands for justice, freedom, and an end to discrimination, and I feel Bradley represents all of these things -- as well as complete honesty and bravery. What the Pride board did to repudiate that choice, especially in its official statement -- to not be able to make the distinction between Manning's necessary actions and way the government is denigrating our troops with these illegal and unjust wars -- is the height of stupidity.
"They [the Pride board] are colluding in the giant 'Support Our Troops' hoax that says you must never question the leadership of the military. There is actually no contradiction between supporting our troops as individuals, including our LGBT folks in the armed services, and supporting Bradley Manning and what he did.