The Catholic Worker (CW) in England primarily consists of three live in communities and extended communites around these experiments carrying out the "acts of mercy" to the homeless and nonviolent resistance resistance to the warmakng state.
Our involvement with the Bradley Manning and Juian Assange cases began in December, when I was distressed by the lack of response by the British and Irish peace movements to the plight of Welsh/American Manning and Australian Assange being tracked down by the U.S empire for reporting a war crime in Iraq now known as the "Collateral Murder" foootage.
I don't really understand the absence of the anarchist scene in England around these cases! When I joined the anarchist movement in Australia in the '70's, we were told that anarchists were strong on FREE EXPRESSION (even for people we don't agree with, a principled position that distinguished us from the "authoritarian left" in the Queensland civil liberties movement of the 1970's!), PRISONS (abolish them!) and WAR (don't support any of them!). So here are, the three great themes in one package in the Mannng and Assange cases and little sign of the English anarchist cavalry riding to the rescue as yet! The WikiLeaks exposures have been a great boost for FREE SPEECH, Mannng and Assange are looking at beng executed or IMPRISONED for the rest of the lives accused of nonviolent ANTI-WAR resistance. Yet so little solidarity, go figure?
On Nov 20th. 2010, I made up a placard calling for solidarity with Bradley Manning and headed into the "Stop the War" demonstration to spread the word about Bradley. There was no other mention of Bradley, in speech or sign, at the 5,000 strong demonstration!
I also discovered that the last place Bradley was, before being in the war in Iraq or in chains, was Shannon Airport, Ireland where I had been arrested with the Pitstop Ploughshares doing $U.S.2 1/2million disarmament to a U.S. warplane on the cusp of the ' 03 U.S. invasion of Iraq. This connection gave me more impetus to offer pro-active solidarity to Bradley. In my experiences as a prisoner over the last 30 years, in a variety of jurisdictions, I have been the recipient of solidarity from others that has sustained me. I know the significance of solidarity from those first hand experiences.
Within weeks of that Nov 20 anti-war rally, Julian Assange was taken into custody in London and placed in solitary in HMP Wandsworth. Assange is from my state of Queensland, Australia, and although too young for the resistance of the late'70's/early '80's he grew up in the police state that was Queensland. He believes this to be formative and mentioned it in his initial bail hearing at Westminister Magistrates how that formation contributed to his commtment to free speech. These connects also motivated me into the last three months of intense solidarity activism and organising for both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. This has been balanced by our conitnued nonviolent anti-war resistance at Northwood HQ
Dalston Army Showroom
Ministry of Defence
and intervening on the Irish elections
and also our hospitality work with destitute refugees many fleeing wars generated by arms exports fomr Britain.
I have been shocked by the lack of solidarity for both Manning and Assange from "peace and justce" organisations. One would think that when 2 million people marched in England against this war in '03, they by iimplication called upon members of the military and civil society to resist the war. And that by implication, when people do resist you are obligated to offer what solidarity you can muster! Am I missing something here? I have been moved from anger and outrage (the most they do when "upset" in southen England, it seems, is to express "disquet an dismay" apparently! I've lived in Liverpool during the Dockers Strike, the culture is different there.) by the abandonment of Manning and Assange by the peace movement that incited them to a present state of near paralytic bamboozlement and speechlessness!
In the work around responding to the persecution of Assange we were primarily joined by a radical Christian Australian family who live simply in a motor home in downtown London, also other Australians from the Catholic Worker network in London and a Colombian woman who lived near Woolwich Courts where Assange was being tried. There was a real lack of English people willing to come out and come to court. There were also a handful of members of "Anonymous", WikiLeaks Support and celebrities willing to come and stand with Julian at Court.
In the last month, awareness of Bradley Mannng has grown as the mainstream media including the liberal left Guardian play wedge politics presenting the lie of "Assange as an elitest playboy comfortable in a mansion while Mannng a naieve dupe is being tortured n jail" seems to be their schtick.
Julian Assange is the person in human history who has pissed off the most powerful people in the shortest amount of time that I am aware of - from American warlords to the hip liberal public school boys of the Guardian. As someone who pisses off a lot of people myself, I am impressed!
A few weeks ago, a call came out from the U.S. anti-war folks that they were heading back to Quantco U.S. Marine Base to confront the ongoing torture there (301 days today!) of Bradley Manning and to demand his immediate release. The call went out for solidarity demonstrations around the U.S. and at U.S. embassies around the world!
So the last few weeks has been an experience of organising a March 20 effort at the U.S. embassy in London. Organising on the internet with people you've never met is not ideal. But we all pulled off a good scene last Sunday at the embassy together....Welsh school kidz, "UK Friends of Bradley Mannng", "WISEup for Bradley Manning", PayDay, Catholic Worker and others.
Iraq War S.A.S. combat veteran Ben Griffin, long time CND spokesman Bruce Kent, human rights and gay activist legend Peter Tatchell answered my calls to come to the embassy and speak. Kiwi John McLean answered a Sunday morning call and came into play some Blues on short notice. Pay Day, Welsh folks and Catholic Worker brought some great visuals, Serena (who had bussed in from Scotland for the demonstration) and 16 year old Danny took shifts as standng as a shackled Bradley Manning in front of the embassy, Pay Day Lindi also spoke and led some chantng, Naomi from "UK Friends of Bradley Manning", Pirate Party Loz also addressed the crowd. Also good contributons on the open mike, that followed formalities, by U.S. Air Force veteran Scott Albrecht of the CW Farmhouse, Sr. Susan Clarkson of the Oxford CW who is staging a weekly (Wednesdays 12noon-2pm) for Bradley at the U.S. Embassy through Lent, more folks from the crowd also made strong statements and a Welsh crew did a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine".
The weather was beautiful and the vibe was great. Hopefully Bradley Manning finds our efforts at solidarity siginificant as we find his presence in prison significant. As the Wobblies would say "He's in there for us, We're on the streets for him!"
See you on the road to free Bradley Manning and Julian Assange and end this war,
****SOME SNAPS FORM M20 U.S. EMBASSY, LONDON
*DEMOTIX SLIDESHOW M20 of London Rally for Bradley Manning
*PHOTOS/ CW CREW AT U.S. EMBASSY LONDON
CW Sign "Stop Torturing Bradley Manning
CW Shrine for Bradley Manning and Vicitms of the War on Iraq
16 year old Danny as "Bradley Manning" in front of the U.S. embassy
*PHOTOS/ OTHER SPEAKERS
Ben Griffin Iraq Combat Veteran/ British S.A.S., refusenik, mow under hgh court gag order
Kiwi John McLean on blues guitar
Pay Day Lindi
Pirate Party Loz
***REPORTS/PHOTOS/YOUTUBE FROM QUANTICO TO LONDON TO MELBOURNE
U.S./London Embassy BBC Report
Italian Friends of Bradey Manning
HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS
WASHINGTON D.C. U.S.A. M19 Veterans for Peace at White House
M19 YOUTUBE Daniel Elsberg's Speech at White House
YOUTUBE (1 min) Daniel Elsberg and U.S.and 113 other miitary veterans & anti-war activists arrested at White House demanding the release of Bradley Manning.
* Zach Choate, Iraq Veterans Against the War: “If you’re an Iraq veteran, you’re all whistleblowers,” said the Army veteran who served from 2005-2008. “These ribbons mean nothing to me anymore. Why even wear them if you go to a foreign place and you start to tell the truth about what was seen? Today we are Bradley Manning, and that’s who I am.”
* Jeff Patterson, Courage to Resist: “We’re not giving up on this case. We have a pre-trial hearing that’s going to be open to the public, and we are going to be back here,” said one of the founders of the Bradley Manning Support Network. “Today there are 30 cities around the world, just like us, gathering to do this. We’re not going to give up.”
At Quantico, Daniel Ellsberg, former Marine, newly released from DC prison: “The Marine Corps motto is ‘Semper fidelis’ – always faithful. But times like these raise the question: faithful to what? What most people don’t realize is the Marines take an oath not to the President, or the Commander in Chief, but solely to support the United States Constitution,” Ellsberg began. He went on to explain that he wished he had leaked earlier, in 1965, when he “could have saved lives.” But now, he said, “I want Bradley Manning’s courage to be contagious.”
David House, Bradley Manning’s friend and Network Steering Committee member:”I hope Obama can hear me,” House said. “I hope he knows that he cannot keep alleged whistleblowers lockedup in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day without exercise! . . . The time is now to act.”
With that, protesters are setting out to march to the Iwo Jima Memorial!
Things have taken a nasty turn at Quantico. As protesters silently moved to march to the Iwo Jima Memorial to lay a wreath to remember the dead, Marine MPs refused to allow all but press and six veterans to proceed on to the Memorial. Prince William County police on the site joined the Marines in attempting to delay the protesters from proceeding, according to live tweeting by Jane Hamsher. In response, protesters laid and sat down on the ground, refusing to move. Police then began arresting protesters one by one and are loading them on to two nearby police buses for booking. Daniel Ellsberg is among those being arrested.
Bradley Manning stickers on police riot shields
Riot police move In
Code Pink Photos & 18 sec vids
Crowd Refuse to leave Quantico
Ciaron O'Reilly, Giuseppe Conlon House, Catholic Worker, London