Category Archives: activism

Thousands Online Want to Give Chelsea Manning a Hug

Thousands Online Want to Give Chelsea Manning a Hug

Following reports that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” for a possible commutation, the Internet has exploded with support for the imprisoned transgender transparency advocate. Over the weekend, thousands of people started taking part in a spontaneous #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched as if waiting to give Chelsea Manning a hug, calling for President Obama to grant her clemency. Some prominent individuals including Michael Stipe of REM, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, and the punk band Anti-Flag, have joined the effort.

See a selection of #HugsForChelsea photos here, see the landing page for the campaign here.

“Chelsea has so much love and support coming from people across the political spectrum,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who posted the first #HugsForChelsea photo, “She has suffered enough. People are coming out of the woodwork to speak out. President Obama needs to do the right thing and free her now. After getting to know her as one of her supporters over the last year, I personally can’t wait to give her a hug.”

“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”

Background:

  1. More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

  2. Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

  3. The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

  4. Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House.

  5. Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency

  6. Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

  7. A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

  8. Learn more at FreeChelsea.com, and follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea
ACLU and LGBT Groups Call on President Obama to Grant Clemency To Chelsea Manning

ACLU and LGBT Groups Call on President Obama to Grant Clemency To Chelsea Manning

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Civil Liberties Union and over a dozen LGBT groups sent a letter to President Barack Obama today urging the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information to the media to raise public awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians. Manning is in the seventh year of a 35-year sentence.

Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative, offered the following statement:

“Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Granting her clemency petition will give Ms. Manning a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be.”

The letter reads, “Manning, a transgender woman who is being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement – including for attempting suicide – and denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria. The Army even opposed her request to use her legal name and to be referred to by female pronouns. While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning’s efforts to be treated with basic dignity.”

The following groups signed the letter:

American Civil Liberties Union
BiNet USA
COLAGE
Family Equality Council
FORGE, Inc.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
Immigration Equality
KhushDC
Lambda Legal
League of United Latin American Citizens
Los Angeles LGBT Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women
Pride at Work
Transgender Law Center

The letter can be found HERE

A petition on the White House’s “We the People” platform, asking President Obama to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served, has garnered over 40,000 signatures. Last week, Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama also supporting that Chelsea Manning’s sentence be commuted to the time she has already served in prison.

For more information, please visit: https://www.freechelsea.com

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

Last week the Coalition Against Hate released the discriminatory records of individuals who have been raised as potential appointees or senior staff in a Trump administration with deep ties to racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The Coalition urges Donald Trump to eject known extremists from his inner circle, such Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Mike Pompeo, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Laura Ingraham and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Request Commutation of Sentence, Supporters Launch White House Petition

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Request Commutation of Sentence, Supporters Launch White House Petition

Washington, DC — Today, Chelsea Manning’s legal defense team released a letter sent to the U.S. Army and the Office of the Pardon Attorney, requesting the commutation of Ms. Manning’s 35 year court-martial sentence to time served and “a first chance to live a real, meaningful life.” The letter discusses the harsh and inhumane conditions Ms. Manning was subjected to in unlawful pretrial solitary confinement for nearly a year.
Specifically, the application highlights the 11 months that Ms. Manning spent in solitary confinement before her trial. The first two months of that confinement was spent in the dark, in a cage inside of a tent, in 105 degree temperatures, in Kuwait. Following her confinement in Kuwait, Ms. Manning spent the next nine months of solitary confinement forced to sit upright, staring straight ahead at the wall, all day, every day.

View the full clemency letter sent to the Secretary of the Army and the Pardon Attorney for the President HERE

“After accepting full responsibility for her choices, Ms. Manning was sentenced to the most severe punishment received by any other whistleblower in American history, so excessive that it even exceeds international legal norms,” said attorney Vince Ward, one of the lawyers representing Chelsea in her appeal of her court martial.. “President Obama has the opportunity to right this wrong and commute her sentence to time served and we hope that he’ll give Chelsea a chance to live her life after her courageous act to raise public awareness about the impact of war on innocent civilians.”

“Chelsea was bullied in the Army because she is transgender and  she has faced ongoing abuses and the denial of health care since her incarceration,” said Chase Strangio, an attorney representing Chelsea Manning in her civil case against the Department of Defense. “For years she served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and then the ban on open transgender service and she has fought to exist as the woman that she is; she deserves to be free and given the health care that she needs, not punished.”

View the newly-launched petition here: http://tinyurl.com/chelseatimeserved

Manning supporters also launched a petition on the WeThePeople platform, calling for President Obama to act now to commute Chelsea’s sentence. Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, a digital rights group that has supported Chelsea while in prison, said, “Chelsea Manning has suffered unimaginable abuses at the hands of the U.S. government, all for trying to help people and do the right thing. Unless President Obama acts now to release her, the government’s persecution of Chelsea will go down in history as one of the darkest and most shameful misdeeds of this administration.”

In their amicus brief, the Open Society Justice Initiative argues that the 35-year sentence imposed on Ms. Manning far exceeds international legal norms and should be reduced. Drawing on a survey of law and practice in 30 countries, it notes that Ms. Manning’s sentence is “far higher than the penalties that our closest allies would consider proportionate.” In the U.K, for example, the crimes of which Ms. Manning was found guilty carry a maximum penalty of 2 years in jail.

Chelsea wrote about her time in solitary confinement for The Guardian, in May 2016.

For interviews with the Chelsea Manning defense team, please contact Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953 or christina@balestramedia.com