As the activist endures solitary confinement, friends and allies offer words of solidarity, love, and resistance
Chelsea Manning – activist, whistleblower, LGBTQ and prison rights advocate – is currently enduring torture. The US government continues to hold Manning in solitary confinement for refusing to testify for a Grand Jury in a case against Wikileaks. The UN and multiple human rights group condemn the practice that’s widespread across the US prison system.
Chelsea has been put through this kind of degrading treatment before – when serving a 35-year prison sentence for leaking state secrets, she spent almost seven years in custody, punctuated by long stretches in solitary confinement. She was denied gender-affirming treatment, as a trans woman, and kept in a men’s prison throughout the time she served. Chelsea went on hunger strike to protest. Her treatment was described repeatedly as “cruel and inhuman” by a special UN committee.
According to Chelsea’s supporters, she’s had very limited contact to the outside world, and continues to be held in isolation since being imprisoned earlier in March for contempt of court. Chelsea is protesting the secrecy of the ongoing proceedings against Wikileaks and Grand Juries.
“We condemn the solitary confinement that Chelsea Manning has been subjected to during her incarceration at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center,” the group Chelsea Resists wrote in a statement. “Chelsea can't be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material.”
“Chelsea is a principled person, and she has made clear that while this kind of treatment will harm her, and will almost certainly leave lasting scars, it will never make her change her mind about cooperating with the grand jury.”
In our recent cover story with the activist, Chelsea told Dazed: “It feels overwhelming when you’re in that and you’re alone, but knowing that you have a community behind you, a community that loves you and will show up for you – even travel to visit your court hearings – means the world. It meant the world to me.”
Dazed stands in solidarity with Chelsea Manning, and supports her decision to resist the Grand Jury – an element of the US criminal justice system that has been used to suppress activists and liberation movements. Below, Dazed has gathered messages of support, love, and resistance for Chelsea from fellow activists that she works with and admires.
ALYSSA V. HOPE
Alyssa V. Hope, Comrade Alyssa, is an incarcerated disabled black trans woman and political prisoner against plutocracy, capitalism, imperialism. Read back on her piece for Dazed’s Infinite Identities issue here, donate to her GoFundMe to fund commissary items and future legal support here, and follow her on Twitter as @comradealyssa.
“Comrade and sister Chelsea Manning, please stay strong in your struggle against the American totalitarian government who continuously try to strip you of your federal constitutional rights. Comrade Chelsea, please keep in mind that I, Comrade Alyssa V. Hope, am standing with you in solidarity.
“Comrade Chelsea will continue to be a target by the American government all because of her act of revolution against the American government, who is supposed to have the best interest of the American citizen in mind, as well as their obligation as a permanent member of the United Nations.
“Comrade Chelsea will never be free until we build a united front and demand the complete liberation of her. We must demand that the government leave her alone permanently and let her live in peace. We as a people are the only ones who have the power of numbers to make this demand of the American government.”
MORGAN M PAGE
“Dear Chelsea, thank you for forever taking principled positions against the overreach of the state, sticking your neck out far beyond where most of us would ever consider doing so. In this current age of anxiety, of unparalleled state intrusion into daily life, of global fascist backlash, your example of resistance points us towards a more just world. You follow in the footsteps of Angela Davis, Sylvia Rivera, CeCe McDonald – women who have and continue to push back against the injustices of the American machine even as its gears have tried to crunch them down into non-existence. The first time you were behind bars, I saw your face around every corner: people wheat-pasted posters of you all across Montréal, New York, Toronto – in alleyways, on garbage cans, over concert promos. It was a kind of graffiti witchcraft, to pull some part of you out of the prison through the repetition of your image in the streets. This time we’ll cover the whole world with you if we have to. You are powerful and we are with you. I love you, truly.”
Chelsea is in solitary confinement with very little contact with the outside world. Write to her or draw her a picture this week.— ChelseaResists (@ResistsChelsea) March 28, 2019
Pro tips/ideas: provide detailed imagery, copy a short story from a book or lyrics to a song, cover a news story #ChelseaResistspic.twitter.com/B34rrfs1oQ
“I will never cease to be in awe of Chelsea’s bravery and commitment to her principles. In the entire time I’ve known her, she has consistently stood up against injustice and spoken truth to power, even at great cost to herself. It’s time for the government to end this obsessive fishing expedition so that Chelsea can heal from the years of trauma it has already inflicted on her.”
BLACK AND PINK
“We at Black and Pink stand with Chelsea Manning in her fight against the atrocities of the prison industrial complex. No person should be subjected to the inhumane treatment of solitary confinement and grave depravity of justice that occurs within the incarceration state. We also stand with the black trans women, and other people of colour, who are not given space to be shown solidarity because of intersecting oppression and erasure. We see you. We are with you. Always.”
Kade Crockford is the director of Technology for Liberty Program at the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Read back on Kade’s contribution to the Infinite Identities issue here, where the civil rights advocate reflects on how AI can show us the limits of our society.
“I’m appalled that Chelsea Manning is once again locked up for the sole ‘crime’ of having a conscience. Even more galling is that fact that most news outlets don’t seem to care. Her courage in the face of the most powerful forces in our country is inspiring, but I wish she didn’t have to show it.”