On Monday, April 29th, approximately two hundred people gathered in front of the Market Street offices of SF Pride in San Francisco to protest SF Pride's vituperative statement announcing that a mistake had been made: Bradley Manning would not in fact be Grand Marshall of the Pride Parade this year, despite being voted that honor. In that statement SF Pride made clear that support for actions like his "would not be tolerated." I found that statement disgusting.
I was one of those two hundred.
I was enthralled to hear that Daniel Ellsberg would be speaking, and he did not disappoint. I felt honored just to be able to stand there, fifteen feet away, and hear the man who in my youth, "was Bradley Manning" as he today and in the past has described himself. This is part of what he had to say.
...At the Gay Pride parade, I guarantee to you that I will be marching in that parade, for the first time for me, with a banner honoring Bradley Manning. If that will not be tolerated by the leadership, I guess I'm in for a little intolerance...
What a clusterfuck. Earlier this month the Executive Board of San Francisco Pride, which hosts the annual Gay Pride parade in San Francisco, conducted an election to decide who would be this year's Grand Marshall. Votes were cast by former Grand Marshalls of the parade; Bradley Manning was nominated and won that election.
Manning, a gay US Army private, is now imprisoned by the US Military, about to undergo a court martial. He is accused of releasing documents that harmed the United States; an offense that could theoretically get him the death penalty. By many, though, he is considered a hero for getting those records out, much in the spirit of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. He is heralded by some for leaking one video in particular showing US Forces killing Iraqi civilians indiscriminately from a helicopter. This video has ended up having enormous political ramifications in both Iraq and the United States, but was suppressed for years... until Manning got it to Wikileaks.
The Executive Board of SF Pride decided to nullify the election results they themselves conducted, declaring in a press release that "any hint" of support for Bradley Manning "would not be tolerated." An absolutely incredible use of language when all one has to do is think back a few years to the lack of "support" and the "intolerance" by the majority for every member of the group SF Pride is supposed to represent.
How quickly it is that the humans and pigs can no longer be told apart.
The public side of the vote nullification was done over the weekend of April 27th-28th. (Details on the inside politics here.) In response, in a single day an event was organized by San Francisco LGBT activists to protest this insult, both to Bradley Manning and to the spirit of the gay rights movement, from Stonewall to ActUp to GetEqual.
Daniel Ellsberg speaking at yesterday's rally.
One former Grand Marshall, Joey Cain, noted
Whether or not you believe he is a traitor or hero, San Francisco Pride has always been about embracing the diversity of genders, colors and opinions that are in the LGBT community. We have always done that.There is another part to this sordid fiasco. If the villification of Bradley Manning - someone who exposed murder and corruption - by SF Pride is not enough to turn your stomach, then consider the sponsors of the Pride Parade this year:
Wells Fargo and Bank of America.
Yes, these two stunning examples of corporate America at its best, responsible for destroying the lives of hundreds of thousands of families through fraudulent foreclosures and evictions, and partly responsible for a massive world recession, are both prominent sponsors of the parade.
SF Pride purports to care about the allegation that Bradley Manning placed
in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform.but they have evinced no concern whatsoever about the harm that has been done by their sponsors to large numbers of American citizens. Just a few days ago a report was issued that noted that despite California legislation known as the Homeowner's Bill of Rights, Bank of America continues to defraud homeowners of their houses.
... there is evidence that Bank of America and its subsidiaries skirted proper procedures in foreclosure filings. These practices included lying on fraudulent loan transfers and altering dates on property records, which allowed Bank of America to initiate foreclosure and collect payments and fees for home loans it did not own.Wells Fargo has been equally, if not even more, vile in its heartlessness (see, e.g., Wells Fargo Has MORE Blood on its Hands and Wells Fargo Has Blood on its Hands).
This is the kind of blood money SF Pride is using to pay for its parade.
However history will judge Bradley Manning, SF Pride had no business, verify no moral standing whatsoever, to publicly villify him. If they had any sense, they would shove BofA and Wells Fargo under the Grand Marshall's float that Bradley Manning should be riding atop of.
Photo credit: @marymad took the rally photo.