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December 20, 2014

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Bradley Manning backers in Las Vegas gather to protest sentence

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Steve Marcus

About 15 people picket in support of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning at the Lloyd George Federal Building in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. A military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Manning Supporters Picket

A protester holds up a flier in support of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning in front of the Lloyd George Federal Building in downtown Las Vegas Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013. A military judge sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Launch slideshow »
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Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, before a sentencing hearing in his court martial.

A group of 13 demonstrators supporting Pfc. Bradley Manning waved signs and elicited honks Wednesday outside the Lloyd George Federal Courthouse.

Among the demonstrators stood Mary Lou Anderson, who wore a Manning T-shirt and pin. To her, Manning only spread the truth the public deserves to know. She and two other friends from the Occupy Las Vegas movement organized this demonstration last minute.

They wanted to add their voices to the nationwide demonstrations in support of Manning, who received a 35-year sentence Wednesday for releasing military secrets and documents to WikiLeaks. The size of their demonstration didn’t matter, Anderson said.

“I’m a believer that this stuff makes a difference,” Anderson said. “Just because you’re spreading public awareness.”

The demonstrations were scheduled after military judge Col. Denise Lind announced Manning’s 35-year sentence. Anderson said she prayed that Lind would change her mind and find Manning not guilty, but she knew that was unlikely. She was actually surprised he received only 35 years.

Demonstrations were held in Chicago, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles and other cities. In Las Vegas, the group held signs that read, for example, “Free Bradley Manning Now” and “Honk for Peace.”

They stood outside the courthouse for more than one hour as motorists on Las Vegas Boulevard honked their support and glanced at the gathering.

Barbara Nelson attended the demonstration with her husband, Jim. They feel Manning is a whistle-blower, not a criminal. While they know this specific demonstration won’t change his sentencing, they want people to at least be aware of the case.

“Mainly it’s getting eyes open for the rest of the country,” Nelson said. “I speak to family members, they don’t even know who Bradley Manning is … We’re out here to show people. Maybe they will drive, go home and go on the Internet and really look this up.”

Marybel Gomez and her friend Claire Estrella attended the demonstration because they felt Manning’s sentencing was unfair. They wanted to show support and solidarity with the nationwide demonstrations.

While Anderson would have loved for more people to show up, she knows even a group as small as 13 can reach a wide audience.

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