News Release: Oklahoma supporters of Bradley Manning react to his relocation to Ft. Leavenworth KS

OKLAHOMA CITY – News that Oklahoma native Bradley Manning is being moved to Ft. Leavenworth KS has galvanized supporters in Kansas and surrounding states. Reports of the unexpected transfer prompted hurried planning of protests and other support actions by activists in the region for the alleged Wikileaks leaker who has been imprisoned for almost a year at Quantico Marine Base in Virgina.

The Bradley Manning Support Network distributed a press release (see below) on Tuesday afternoon and listservs and Facebook pages lit up with concern and pledges that the move away from the greater DC area would not lessen public displays of concern for Manning’s wellbeing and demands for his freedom.

Members of The Oklahoma Center for Conscience, which has sponsored a number of Oklahoma City events in support of Manning since last August, were connecting with their members as well as activists throughout the country to build a network that would travel to Ft. Leavenworth for demonstrations.

At Joy Mennonite Church, a sponsoring organization of OCC, Minister of Social Justice James M. Branum took note of the large Mennonite population in Kansas, and the Mennonite standing as a peace church, for the prospects of strong support for Manning after the move.

“Bradley Manning allegedly leaked these documents to try to bring an end to the wars. We are reaching out to mobilize the thousands of Mennonites and other Anabaptists in Kansas and neighboring states to act on their peace beliefs in his defense,” Branum said.

OCC Executive Director Rena Guay also thought Manning’s transfer would not lessen the international backlash to his incarceration and condition. “Since last summer, we have been getting a steady stream of global media attention regarding Bradley’s Oklahoma roots and our support for him. Now that he will be quite close, we expect this to increase, and our level of attention to the case and support activity will also increase.” She said she expected many Oklahoma supporters to travel regularly to Ft. Leavenworth for demonstrations.

“Remedying the uncivilized conditions of his imprisonment is but the least of our demands — we want to see his unconditional release and prosecution of the war crimes which have been exposed though Wikileaks,” Guay stated.




Jeff Paterson, Kevin Zeese


April 19, 2011


Alleged WikiLeaks source to be moved away from attorney and DC-area backers; however, Kansas residents already preparing to spearhead support

“The military and Administration has been shocked by the support Bradley Manning has garnered globally–specifically at the gates of Quantico, Virginia. Last month, 500 supporters rallied near the Marine brig where PFC Manning has been held since August 2010. It wasn’t a secret that we were preparing to rally one to two thousand for an upcoming DC-area pre-trial hearing,” explains Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

“PFC Manning’s transfer from Virginia to Kansas limits his access to his civilian attorney David Coombs of Rhode Island. It also severely limits visitation opportunities by his East Coast family and friends,” explains attorney Kevin Zeese, an organizer with the Bradley Manning Support Network.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich declared today, “Any move of PFC Manning does not change the underlying fact, which has not been disputed by the Department of Defense, that he has been held under conditions which may in fact constitute ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ in violation of the 8th amendment.”

Ethan McCord, Kansas resident and a former Soldier who appears in the “Collateral Murder” video that PFC Manning is accused of leaking, declares, “Bradley Manning is accused of doing nothing more than heroically telling the truth. I and many others here in Kansas are already planning support actions at Leavenworth.”

“I’m concerned that the military is simply moving to further isolate PFC Manning. The idea that Quantico brig commander CWO2 Denise Barnes, without direction from above, imposed and maintained the current torturous conditions of PFC Manning’s detention is ridiculous. However, we will demand that Army officials at Leavenworth finally take responsibility for correcting this ongoing injustice. I know many hold out hope for them to do so,” adds Paterson.

US Army intelligence analyst Private First Class Bradley E Manning, 23-years-old, has been held in maximum and solitary-like confinement conditions since his arrest in Iraq in May 2010. He still awaits his first public court hearing, now expected to begin in June. Over 300 of America’s top legal scholars have decried PFC Manning’s confinement conditions as in clear violation of the US Constitution. Over 3,500 individuals have contributed over $280,000 towards PFC Manning’s legal fees and related public education efforts. Over 500,000 people recently signed a statement to President Obama calling for an end to PFC Manning’s torturous conditions of confinement. The Bradley Manning Support Network is dedicated to winning the freedom of PFC Manning.

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Finally published! Peace Post, Winter 2011

Here is the long awaited “We Love Winter So Much We Extended It” issue of the Peace Post. In it you’ll find the announcement of our Mertens Peace Award and fundraiser event featuring entertainment by Peggy Johnson, an article describing out becoming an affiliate of War Resisters League, and and heads up about our upcoming GI Rights Hotline Training. We also welcome Mayflower Congregational UCC Church to our list of sponsoring organizations. And there’s more, so open it up and enjoy!

If you would prefer to receive a print copy of the Peace Post, just let us know.

Peace Post Vol. 2 Issue 1

OCC fundraiser on April 2 will honor Father John Vrana with the first annual Mertens Peace Award, Peggy Johnson to perform

On Saturday, April 2, The Oklahoma Center for Conscience will present the first annual Mertens Peace Award to Father John Vrana, at a ceremony at Mayflower UCC Church. A native of Oklahoma City who lived and worked here most of his life, Father Vrana was a local diocesan priest who took a public and sometimes controversial role in seeking racial justice, ending war and promoting nonviolence during the years of the civil rights struggle and Vietnam war.

The ceremony will be part of an OCC fundraiser to which the public is invited. Festivities begin at 7pm and the evening will close with a concert of peace songs from local singer/songwriter Peggy Johnson. The event is free, but donations will be gratefully accepted at the door. Beverages and light refreshments will be offered. Mayflower UCC is located at 3901 Northwest 63rd Street in Oklahoma City.

Father Vrana was nominated for the award by Marianne Mertens, as someone whom she felt should be recognized for his long commitment to peace and his courage to take moral but unpopular stands. Marianne and her husband Art, who passed away last year, were founding members of OCC.

Rena Guay, OCC’s Executive Director, said that “the Mertens embody the kind of selfless service to grassroots peace and justice causes that we seek to honor with our award, so it is fitting that it carry their name. Their actions over their lives and the people they have helped and inspired are their legacy, a legacy which we hope to echo each year when we present it to a deserving individual or group.”

“By recognizing the peace leaders of our past, we hope to inspire a new generation to follow in their footsteps, and so we build on their history and create a more just and peaceful future for all,” she said. “Father Vrana is such an individual and we are proud to be able to present him with the first annual Mertens Peace Award.”

Father Vrona is currently residing at St. Ann’s Nursing Home, where he is visited by those whose lives he touched through his many years of service. Because of his poor health, he will not be able to attend the ceremony; his award will be accepted by Marianne Mertens.

OCC was founded in 2004 by Catholic Peace Fellowship, Joy Mennonite Church, Oklahoma City Friends Meeting (Quakers) and Veterans for Peace as an organization dedicated to ending and preventing war and to support those who resist war as a matter of conscience. For more information, see or call 405-598-7362.

Those wishing to donate to OCC in honor of Art Mertens or Father John Vrana can send a check or money order to: Oklahoma Center for Conscience, 504 NE 16th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73104.

Press Release: Vrana award

Sign the petition in support of Bradley Manning

Join the thousands from around the world who have called for justice for Bradley Manning.

To: US Department of Defense; US Department of Justice

We, the Undersigned, call for justice for US Army PFC Bradley Manning, incarcerated without charge (as of 18 June 2010) at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

Media accounts state that Mr. Manning was arrested in late May for leaking the video of US Apache helicopter pilots killing innocent people and seriously wounding two children in Baghdad, including those who arrived to help the wounded, as well as potentially other material. The video was released by WikiLeaks under the name “Collateral Murder”.

If these allegations are untrue, we call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

If these allegations ARE true, we ALSO call upon the US Department of Defense to release Mr. Manning immediately.

Simultaneously, we express our support for Mr. Manning in any case, and our admiration for his courage if he is, in fact, the person who disclosed the video. Like in the cases of Daniel Ellsberg, W. Mark Felt, Frank Serpico and countless other whistleblowers before, government demands for secrecy must yield to public knowledge and justice when government crime and corruption are being kept hidden.

Justice for Bradley Manning!


The Undersigned


Opt-out of military recruitment information for parents of HS juniors and seniors

If you are the parent or guardian of an 11th- or 12th-grader enrolled in public school, please read on. If you know a parent (or student) that can use this info, please pass it on.

According to the No Child Left Behind Act, your school must release your child’s contact information on demand to military recruiters. But if you act now, you can stop these recruiters from invading the privacy of your home by trying to convince your child to join the military. To say “no” to the school’s release of your child’s information, you must inform the school in writing of your desires no later than Sept. 20.

There is a simple form that should have been provided with your child’s enrollment materials; if not, it should still be available at the school.

If you have problems getting this form from your school, or if you need help with what to write to opt out, call the Oklahoma Center for Conscience at 405.445.0115.

Print and sign this generic form if you do not have a form available in your enrollment packet:

March to Support Alleged Whistleblower Bradley Manning

Bradley ManningManning, an Oklahoma native, faces 52 years in prison for exposing war crimes

What: Solidarity March in Support of Bradley Manning
When: Thursday, August 12, 8pm
Where: Corner of NE 16th and Lincoln to Oklahoma State Capitol

This Thursday, August 12, Oklahomans will show support for and solidarity with Pfc. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking documents about the Afghanistan War, with a march at dusk near the state capitol. The Army intelligence analyst, originally from Cresent, Oklahoma, is being held in the brig at Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

The action is being organized locally by the Oklahoma Center for Conscience, with support from the Oklahoma Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

Private First Class Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq, stands accused of disclosing a classified video depicting American troops in Iraq shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in 2007. Eleven people were killed, including two Reuters employees, and two children were critically injured. No charges have been filed against the soldiers who did the killing.

News sources have also speculated about Manning’s involvement in the leak of over 90,000 secret documents (collectively known as the Afghanistan “war logs”) made public by WikiLeaks, a website that publishes leaked material anonymously.

James M. Branum, an attorney that works with OCC on military law cases, calls the Pentagon’s treatment of Manning “extreme” and designed to set up the case “as an example of the punishment waiting for others who would consider exposing violations of military regs and international law.”

“We are saying that exposing war crimes is not a crime,” he said.

The whistleblower behind the Vietnam era’s Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has called Mr. Manning a hero.  ”I admire the courage of Bradley Manning for sacrificing himself to make the public aware of the futility of the war in Afghanistan,” says Ellsberg.

“Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime,” says former Marine Corporal Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist, a group teaming up with the Bradley Manning Support Network to raise funds for Manning’s defense.

More info:

Bradley Manning march press release

Individual resistance, community power