The organization responsible for putting together San Francisco's LGBT Pride parade and Civic Center fest in June, known as SF Pride, tried to have a public meeting last night to discuss the de-selection of Bradley Manning as an honorary Grand Marshal of the parade. The meeting was met with at least 50 protesters, as well as members of the media, some of whom were barred from entering the meeting despite the Pride board's expressed desire to seek public comment. Security and police personnel cited safety concerns, according the Guardian's Marke Bieschke, and allegedly only fifteen members of the public were to enter the meeting at a time.
In addition to LGBT activists on the left, this cause has obviously been taken up by others who simply support Manning as a whistleblower. The Bradley Manning Support Network was in full force at the protest
According to local muckraker Michael Petrelis, he was the only member of the public in the room when the meeting started, but ultimately 20 or so people were allowed in. (He also counts the numbers outside much higher, saying there were 125 people by 7 p.m.)
Also yesterday, Manning supporters filed a discrimination complaint against SF Pride with the city's Human Rights Commission, saying that they discriminated against the board members who voted for Manning. And because the organization receives city funds, "it is not allowed to discriminate against people just because they don’t like their moral support for Bradley."
Meanwhile another local muckraker and former Supervisor candidate, Glendon Hyde (a.k.a. Anna Conda), writes today that the entire SF Pride organization deserves to be dismantled over this. "Tear down the corporation and start new with a community based organization," he says, adding, "They have treated the queers of this city like insignificant parts of the process for so long that by the time they decided to start lying about Manning they were already too damaged to recover."
The SF Pride organization has taken its share of blows over the past few years, and they've burned through directors faster than Italy goes through presidents. Some of you may recall this exposé from 2011 in which SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi detailed SF Pride's many financial failings, despite the potential to be a very rich and well sponsored organization.
SF Pride's board president Lisa Williams issued a statement late yesterday insisting that they stand by the decision to de-select Manning, saying that he was never eligible to be selected in the process, and his disqualification was based on "unequivocal policy grounds."