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.
The disastrous move by this year's Pride Board to negate the election of Bradley Manning as a community grand marshal in the parade -- locking out press and protestors, canceling meetings, and kicking up a general shitstorm in the process -- only served to bring out three blocks' worth of marching supporters in the Bradley Manning Supprt Network Contingent this year. Now, that contingent has won the "Best Overall Pride Contingent Award," voted on by the public.
Here's the press release from Grand Marshal, Not Court Martial, a related group:
This past June 30, the Bradley Manning Support Network (BMSN) marched for its third consecutive year in San Francisco’s Pride Parade.
The BMSN was the largest non-corporate contingent in this year's parade and was named by judges, along with four other groups, as an "Absolutely Fabulous Marching Contingent." In addition, at last night’s SF Pride's Check Granting Party, it also won the award for "Absolutely Fabulous Overall Contingent."
The vote for the “Absolutely Fabulous Overall Contingent” was put out to the community on SF Pride's web site. BMSN was up against three other groups: Abada Capoeira, Bay Area Youth Summit, and Mormons for Marriage Equality.
The winning of these awards comes on the heels of a two-month debacle in which SF Pride rescinded the nomination of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning as a Community Grand Marshal. Local LGBT and veteran activists held demonstrations and a teach-in (as well as a Community Meeting called by Pride at the urging of SF Supervisor David Campos) to try to get Manning reinstated.
The contingent featured former military strategist, 82 year old Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked secret documents known as the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times. Ellsberg, adorned with a pink boa around his neck, was accompanied in the parade by his wife, Patricia.
Manning was sentenced this past Wednesday to 35 years in prison for releasing thousands of classified documents including the infamous “Collateral Murder” video, which shows a U.S. Army helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists. This sentence will automatically be sent to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Manning’s lawyer and numerous organizations are calling on President Obama to pardon Manning, who could be paroled after 10 years, three of which have already been served.
Following the sentencing, Manning issued a public statement declaring: “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.”