At about 5:30 PM, the organizer for the rally for Bradley Manning at Oscar Grant Plaza in downtown Oakland told the crowd that Scott and a small band of Vets, Occupiers and other activists had started a sit-in at the Obama campaign office a couple of blocks away. She said that we would be marching over there to support the sit-in and that the rally would continue from there.
In fifteen minutes the Obama office was both surrounded and invaded. Fifty or more people were inside, and perhaps a hundred outside, all chanting
Free Bradley Manning!
Some time later the police arrived, forced their way in through the back entrance, got most everyone to leave, locked the front doors and commenced to, well, do nothing. Scott and six volunteers remained inside, refusing to leave, four or five police off to the one side, hanging out and shooting the breeze.
This went on until about 8:30 PM, when the police "hostage negotiator" finally told them that they would be arrested if they did not leave in a half an hour.
For reasons I am not clear on, just before time was up, it was decided that Scott should leave the building voluntarily to "have someone on the outside." The six others remained, and at approximately 9:00 PM were all arrested.
A spontaneous march ensued, taking protesters down to the Oakland Police station. Tweets suggest that no further incidents occurred; no one else was arrested. A jail watch continued at the Alameda County jail near the police station to determine if and when those arrested would be released.
Scott Olsen @OlsenVet
I made it home safely. Wish I could say the same for my comrades who got arrested. Wish I could say the same for Brad Manning
Pfc. Bradley Manning @SaveBradley
Many thanks to @CourtneyOccupy, livestreaming this Bradley Manning #vets4brad action in Oakland, after arrests and into the streets. #FF
#OO #OccupyOakland I feel encouraged. the bravery& persistence of Scott & so many others I've seen here from start
Scott Olsen @OlsenVet
Video taken by me within minutes of us entering the office. Shows us getting pushed by #Obama staffers #Vets4Brad
... over 300 top legal scholars have declared that Bradley’s treatment was a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, as well as a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against punishment without trial. Among the signatories is professor Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who taught President Obama. Professor Tribe was, until recently, a senior advisor to the US Justice Department. -- BradleyManning.org
Photo credit: As usual, Alyssa (kossack Allie123, tweeting as @alyssa011968) took the amazing photos.
At least 60 protesters showed up on the doorstep of the Barack Obama campaign headquarters in Oakland Thursday night, where they demanded the freedom of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks.
Manning, 24, has been indicted on 22 counts including charges of aiding the enemy.
Within minutes, a scuffle broke out between the volunteers and protesters, though it was unclear how it started.
A protester who filmed the scuffle, two-time Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen, says he saw pushing, shoving, and even chairs being wielded, some of which can be seen on the video. Olsen was one of the most well-known faces of the Occupy movement last year after he was seriously injured by what was believed to have been a police projectile during a protest in Oakland.
According to the Oakland Tribune, seven protesters eventually successfully planted themselves inside the campaign office, where they linked arms and told police they would not leave.
After several hours of negotiations with officers, one of the protesters left the office and the remaining six were arrested for trespassing.
According to Rainey Reitman, director of activism at the digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a speaker at the free Manning rally that preceded the protest, the letter was successfully faxed to the White House before the protest ended.
"President Obama made a... statement in May 2011: 'In the 21st century, information is power,' " the letter read.
"We now ask that President Obama honor those words by freeing American truth-teller Bradley Manning."
Earlier this month, according to local media reports, the same campaign office had a window smashed when a group of protesters marched through Oakland's downtown.
Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at email@example.com
Letter to President Obama, sent to the White House at the demand of protesters
President Obama: As U.S. veterans, we demand justice for human rights whistle-blower Private First Class Bradley Manning
Today, August 16, 2012, we occupy the President’s campaign office to raise awareness about the injustices facing military whistle-blower and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning. We do not plan to leave until our demands, regarding the illegal treatment of our fellow soldier, have been met. As those who have spent years serving our country, we have faith that as Commander-in-Chief, President Obama will do the right thing in answering our request.
Our demands are as follows:
1. First, that President Obama apologize for the comment he made at a fundraiser in April 2011, regarding PFC Manning’s guilt. Commander-in-Chief Obama stated, “He broke the law,” a sentiment that was later echoed by General Dempsey. This constitutes Unlawful Command Influence, illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which precludes PFC Manning from receiving a fair trial.
2. Second, that President Obama ensures soldiers are free from illegal pretrial punishment. For the first eleven months of his detention, PFC Manning was held in solitary isolation. He was not allowed regular exercise or sunlight, and was even forced to stand at attention naked. UN Chief Investigator on Torture Juan Mendez has declared these conditions “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” Just this last week PFC Manning’s defense revealed they have discovered e-mails which show orders to hold him in these inhuman conditions came from a three-star general who ignored the warnings of brig psychologists, and was likely acting with political motive. Though he’s yet to be convicted of any crime, PFC Manning has already been severely punished. We ask that President Obama pardon him of the remaining charges and seek to ensure the international human rights of other service men and women will be respected.
While we would defend the rights outlined above for any member of the armed services, we support PFC Manning especially due to the patriotic motivations behind the actions attributed to him, and the positive impacts that have come from them. For example, we believe it would be appropriate for President Obama to acknowledge the role that those actions have played in ending the Iraq War. During the 2008 campaign, a majority of Americans, as well as a majority of those enlisted, believed that U.S. forces should be withdrawn from Iraq. Many people voted for President Obama because they believed that he would end the war.
Despite the wishes of the American people, President Obama sought to keep troops in Iraq past the originally planned 2011 deadline. Documents allegedly released by PFC Manning helped American citizens understand why the war had not ended sooner. These reasons included a failure of the command to adequately discipline soldiers who would discredit the U.S. military in the eyes of the world by wrongfully killing civilians. The release of improperly classified documents via WikiLeaks provided an opportunity for President Obama to grant the new Iraqi government more independence as planned, and to bring American taxpayer dollars home and use them to treat traumatized veterans.
Bradley Manning served with conscience. Words attributed to him in May 2010 show he acted because he wanted “people to see the truth… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.“ President Obama made a similar statement in May 2011, when he stated, “In the 21st century, information is power; the truth cannot be hidden; and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.” We now ask that President Obama honor those words by freeing American truth-teller Bradley Manning.
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