Oklahomans will rally Thursday to show support for one of their own.
Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused of leaking a classified video of American troops in an Apache helicopter firing upon and killing 11 Iraq civilians, including two Reuters employees.
Manning, who is from Crescent and was serving as an intelligence analyst in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, is facing 52 years in prison if found guilty. Manning is reportedly a “person of interest” regarding the leak of more than 90,000 classified documents from the war to WikiLeaks, a website that publishes anonymously.
The rally to show support for Manning is being organized by the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and will take place 8 p.m. Thursday near the state Capitol, at the corner of N.E. 16th Street and Lincoln Boulevard.
Manning, who is being held in solitary confinement at Quantico, Va,. under suicide watch, spent part of his childhood with his father in Crescent before moving with his mother to Wales. After enlisting in the Army in 2007, he was trained as an intelligence analyst at Fort Huachuca, Ariz.
Friends of Manning told The New York Times that he talked with them about how the military was not accepting of his geeky nature, liberal political opinions or his openly gay relationship with another man.
Former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who was responsible for the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, said in a release that he thought Manning was a hero.
“We are saying that exposing war crimes is not a crime,” he said. “I admire the courage of Bradley Manning for sacrificing himself to make the public aware of the futility of the war in Afghanistan.”
Across the nation, other groups are assembling, but not in support of Manning.
Move America Forward, a pro-troop organization, says what Manning allegedly did was embarrassing for the country, putting military men and women all over the world in jeopardy.
“Millions of Americans around the country were absolutely mortified that our military had a traitor in its ranks, a traitor who passed along critical information, knowing it would be made public, so that our enemies could use it to kill our troops,” said Danny Gonzalez, director of communications for the group.