Some of you may recall that I was part of a Chelsea Manning contingent at last year’s Queerbomb, Austin’s alternative LGBTQ Pride event. With the help of some talented friends, we constructed a Chelsea Manning float.
Since the summer, the Chelsea float has hung out in my yard — sometimes hiding from the rain under my household’s bicycle shed and other times hanging out in the front yard. It’s worn a little from the weather but still in surprisingly good shape.
Which is why last night I decorated it with Christmas lights, a simple sign and a spotlight. I’d much rather have a Christmas Manning than a Christmas Tree — especially when what I want most for the holiday season is to see political prisoners freed.
And sure it would take a Christmas miracle to do it, but I want to have HOPE that this young woman — just turned 26 earlier this month — and the many others like her will breath fresh air again soon.
I’m 35 years old now, and think back on where I was ten years ago — I barely knew how to dress myself. It’s heartbreaking to imagine facing years in prison at that age — or any other.
I’m glad President Obama pardoned some victims of the drug war recently, as I was beginning to wonder if he remembered the power existed. But the drug war rages on at great expense in human lives worldwide. And how many languish in prison, or worse, solitary, who were never violent or harmful to others? How many are inside for speaking their minds a little too loudly, or exercising their journalistic powers in the wrong ways?
When people ask me why I don’t support the President, Chelsea Manning is always my first example — she’s imprisoned for, in part, revealing the murder of two journalists to the world. How could I, a journalist (whatever Dianne Feinstein thinks) support a regime which prefers to cover up murder and imprison whistleblowers rather than supporting freedom of speech?
And though Obama may have been elected on a wave of “HOPE,” it’s Chelsea Manning and other heroes like her who give me real hope during these dark times, in these darkest of days.
I’ll be sending some photos of the float to Manning, along with my solidarity and well wishes. Read on to find out how you can write to her too.
Writing to Chelsea Manning
Remember, you must write to Chelsea Manning using her full legal name on the outside of the envelope, but should use her chosen name in all your correspondence.
Bradley E. Manning #89289
1300 N Warehouse Rd
Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2304
More: Take action with Pvt. Manning Support Network!
Here’s hoping you take some downtime this holiday season to write a political prisoner, have a Very Manning Christmas, and a New Year rich with loud, proud, free speech.
Photos by Kit O’Connell, released under a Creative Commons license. Thanks Brian Sonenstein for suggesting this post.