Fight for the Future


Chelsea Manning sentence commuted following massive public outcry from across the political spectrum

Posted 17:48 EST on January 17, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 17, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

The White House just announced that President Obama has commuted the majority of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence 35 year sentence. She will be released on May 17th, 2017 having already served more than 6 years, longer than any other whistleblower in U.S. history.

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who has been an ardent supporter of Chelsea’s and speaks to her on the phone on a regular basis, released the following statement:

“Chelsea’s release is massive victory for free speech, human rights, and democracy. As someone who has become friends with Chelsea over the last year, but has never had a chance to see her face or give her a hug, I’m overjoyed that she will be able to share her beautiful self with the world. She has so much to offer, and her freedom will be a testament to the power of grassroots organizing. I’m so excited for the world to get to know her as the compassionate, intelligent, and kind person who she is.”

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Background:

More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House.

Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency

Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

Learn more at FreeChelsea.com, and follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea

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The Internet Wants to Give Chelsea Manning A Hug

Posted 07:58 EST on January 16, 2017
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 16, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Thousands are joining online #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos with arms outstretched calling for President Obama to grant commutation request

Following reports that Chelsea Manning is on President Obama’s “short list” for a possible commutation, the Internet has exploded with support for the imprisoned transgender transparency advocate. Over the weekend, thousands of people started taking part in a spontaneous #HugsForChelsea campaign, posting photos of themselves with their arms outstretched as if waiting to give Chelsea Manning a hug, calling for President Obama to grant her clemency. Some prominent individuals including Michael Stipe of REM have joined the effort.

See a selection of #HugsForChelsea photos here: http://imgur.com/a/GS2Tw

See the landing page for the campaign here.

“Chelsea has so much love and support coming from people across the political spectrum,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, who posted the first #HugsForChelsea photo, “She has suffered enough. People are coming out of the woodwork to speak out. President Obama needs to do the right thing and free her now. After getting to know her as one of her supporters over the last year, I personally can’t wait to give her a hug.”

“As President Obama’s days in office wind down, people from all walks of life are standing in solidarity with Chelsea and urging the President to save her before it is too late,” said Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney. “After years of suffering in prison under horrific conditions including long stretches of solitary confinement, the denial of health care for gender dysphoria and arbitrary punishments including for attempting suicide, Chelsea needs to be set free before this treatment results in her death.”

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Background:

More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House.

Human Rights Watch sent a letter to President Obama supporting clemency

Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

Learn more at FreeChelsea.com, and follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea

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Boston Police scrap plan to purchase social media surveillance software following public backlash over civil liberties

Posted 08:42 EST on January 14, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 14, 2016
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

The Boston Police Department announced yesterday that – for now – they will not be moving ahead with their plan to spend $1.4 million on social media monitoring software. The announcement comes amid growing public outcry about the plan, which would have given local police Orwellian capabilities to constantly scan and analyze online speech in the area.

“This is a huge victory and offers a glimmer of hope for our basic rights at a time when it is in short supply,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, a group that led efforts to oppose the BPD’s surveillance aspirations, “Mass surveillance programs like the one the Boston Police intended to launch don’t actually make us safer, but they have a profoundly chilling effect on freedom of speech and our basic civil rights.”

Last month, digital rights group Fight for the Future and a dozen other civil liberties organizations sent a letter to the mayor and city council calling for them to halt the plan. In coordination with the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU, they also collected thousands of signatures on a petition from Bostonians opposed to the deal.

When the Boston Globe issued a misguided endorsement of the BPD plan, Greer wrote a rebuttal, which was widely shared. BPD drew even more criticism on the plan when it was revealed that they had bent the rules in the Boston Trust Act in order to hand over at least 9 people to federal immigration officials for deportation, violating a city policy preventing cops from getting involved in immigration enforcement.

“City governments and law enforcement agencies around the country should take note of what happened here in Boston. The public will not allow them to waste our tax dollars on dangerous tools that won’t make us safer but will enable mass discrimination and violations of our rights,” Greer added.

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Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit best known for organizing the largest online protests in history against SOPA, for net neutrality, and against government surveillance. Learn more at FightForTheFuture.org or follow us on Twitter at @fightfortheftr

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Chelsea Manning reportedly on President Obama’s “short list” for Commutation

Posted 08:55 EST on January 11, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 11, 2016
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Hundreds of thousands of petition signers, dozens of LGBTQ and human rights organizations have condemned U.S. government’s treatment of Chelsea, called for her release

NBC News is reporting that Chelsea Manning, who has served 7 years of a 35 year sentence, is on President Obama’s “short list” for commutation.

Chelsea Manning’s attorney at the ACLU, Chase Strangio, said:

“The Obama administration has done many commendable things to protect the rights of LGBTQ people, but in the case of Chelsea Manning they have systematically mistreated her and denied her access to medically recommended gender-related health care. Chelsea won’t survive another 5 years in prison, much less another 30. President Obama has 9 days to do the right thing and commute her sentence. The world is watching, and we hope that he stands on the side of justice, and that his legacy will be one of standing up for trans people’s rights, not having extinguished one of our community’s brightest lights.”

Chelsea’s Appellate Counsels Nancy Hollander and Vincent Ward said:

“As Chelsea’s appellate counsel we urge President Obama to act now and commute her sentence to time served. Her appeal will take years. It is past time to start caring for a Soldier who stood up for all of us.”

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said:

“Chelsea Manning is a compassionate, thoughtful, brilliant human being whose actions have always been motivated by the same thing: her desire to help people and make the world a better place. She has suffered enough. President Obama should act now to right this wrong before it’s too late.”

If the NBC News report is accurate and President Obama moves to commute Manning’s sentence, he will be responding to overwhelming public outcry about Chelsea’s mistreatment while incarcerated.

-More than 100,000 people signed an official Whitehouse.gov petition, meeting the threshold to require a response from the President.

-Hundreds of thousands have signed previous petitions organized by Fight for the Future and other groups decrying Chelsea’s treatment while in prison

-The ACLU and more than a dozen prominent LGBT organizations sent a letter to President Obama calling for Chelsea’s commutation

-Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama, and supporters sent over 25,000 emails to the White House

-Dozens of other human rights, free speech, government transparency, and civil liberties organizations have called for Chelsea’s release

-A wide range of notable people have publicly supported Chelsea including Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Morris C. Davis, journalist Glenn Greenwald, Sean Ono Lennon, REM lead singer Michael Stipe, comedian Margaret Cho, Thurston Moore, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine,, and many others.

Learn more at FreeChelsea.com, and follow Chelsea on Twitter at @xychelsea

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Fight for the Future stands with Standing Rock

Posted 16:08 EST on December 4, 2016
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This post was written by Lilia Villa, a former FFTF campaigner who is currently at Standing Rock. Photos by Lilia Villa as well.

We call on all Internet users to educate themselves, get involved, and help spread the word about what is happening in North Dakota at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.

Native Americans who are speaking out have been brutally attacked and placed under extreme surveillance by the U.S. government. Most recently a young woman was severely injured and may lose her arm after police fired concussion grenades into a crowd. [1] We fight to defend the Internet for exactly these moments–when human rights are being trampled and the world needs to pay attention.

The Army Corps of Engineers has issued an eviction notice to the Standing Rock water protectors, claiming they will not have permission to camp there after December 5th. A spokesperson for the Morton County Sheriff’s department has said that if they stay, “they have to live with the consequences of potentially freezing to death.” They have also warned that those delivering supplies could face up to a $1k fine. We can only assume the human rights situation will worsen if the government moves ahead with this plan.

As you read this, Dakota Access Pipeline, LLC, is knowingly plowing through sacred sites, burial grounds, and preparing to drill under the river without a permit – threatening the water supply of nearly 18 million Americans and the nation’s largest aquifer [2] – all with what appears to be full support from both state and federal authorities.  

Water Protectors, as the #NoDAPL movement has asked to be called, continue to be brutalized with excessive militarized force while praying peacefully in opposition.[3] Major news networks have failed to cover the story on television, making social media instrumental in helping indigenous people share the continued oppression and human rights violations as they play out in real time on Facebook Live - feeding the growing resistance in solidarity that’s now become an international movement.  

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It’s a big deal. Over 300 indigenous tribes from across the US and around the world have converged along with thousands of allies for what many have called “the largest, most diverse tribal action in at least a century, perhaps since Little Bighorn.” [4]

While technology has helped them tell their story and find support, even more powerful people and institutions are using technology to conduct indiscriminate surveillance and suppression of free speech.

You may have noticed your Facebook timeline erupting with what seemed like friends traveling and “checking in” to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in the last few weeks. According to a viral post, the flood of check-ins was intended to “overwhelm and confuse” police agencies, saying that the Morton County Sheriff’s Department had been using check-ins to identify and “target” water protectors. [5]

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Law enforcement and private DAPL security have maced, tear gassed, shot rubber bullets, exploded CS (tear gas) grenades, sprayed water cannons in sub-zero temperatures, and released attack dogs on water protectors. They have arrested hundreds so far, targeting indigenous people and leaders, and even caged some in dog kennels [6]– all for praying to defend their land and their drinking water. Both the UN and Amnesty International are now monitoring the human rights abuses happening at Standing Rock as public outrage keeps growing.

With more than 1.5 million check-ins, it was probably the largest counter-surveillance action ever taken.

Putting aside the effectiveness of it, the Facebook users that checked in at Standing Rock water protector camps believed they were creating cover for activists who were actually there, and whose social media presence was being monitored by law enforcement. That means over 1.5 million people worked together to protect indigenous people, and to evade the ubiquitous surveillance of our social networks by law enforcement. That is huge.

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But law enforcement has been doing more than just following social media posts. Signs of illegal IMSI catcher intrusion, or “stingrays,” and other surveillance tactics have been reported on the ground. Cell phone communications and video live feeds have been disrupted, often at critical times when law enforcement attacks on the water protectors are most intense.

“People have reported having their phones misbehaving in odd ways. Batteries dying without warning are the most common reports. But there are creepier incidence, like FaceTime turning on by itself, voice recorders activating, apps malfunctioning, browsers seizing, messages disappearing, and strange noises during calls. My iPhone reset itself as if brand new from the box in my first week at Standing Rock.“ [7]

On October 20, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the ACLU submitted FOIA and Open Records Requests to investigate the possible use of unconstitutional surveillance at Standing Rock. [8] In the press release, they noted that “Water Protectors and allies have been continuously surveilled by low-flying planes, helicopters, and drones, and have had local cell phone communications jammed and possibly recorded.”

What is happening at Standing Rock is an unprecedented crisis, and we are all witness to it. It is inexcusable to have, on American soil, a racist policy being enforced with police brutality, censorship, human rights abuses, and to have silence from our elected officials in response. Also, climate change is real, it threatens all of us, and actions to slow and stop fossil fuel infrastructure—while the world transitions to solar energy—are the front lines of the fight.

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We stand in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock and ask anyone who wants to support their efforts to visit the websites for Oceti Sakowin Camp, Sacred Stone Camp, and the Standing Rock Medic + Healer Council to get involved in their efforts. You can help by going there to join them – and if you can’t – by getting loud in your communities and donating.

Spread the word.

<3 Fight for the Future

Sources:

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/22/dakota-access-pipeline-protester-seriously-hurt-during-police-standoff-standing-rock
  2. http://www.sfweekly.com/news/news-news/standing-standing-rock/
  3. https://www.democracynow.org/2016/11/21/headlines/standing_rock_100_injured_after_police_attack_with_water_cannons_rubber_bullets_mace
  4. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/09/12/us/12tribes.html?_r=0
  5. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/11/01/500268879/more-than-a-million-check-in-on-facebook-to-support-the-standing-rock-sioux
  6. http://abcnews.go.com/US/dakota-access-pipeline-protester-felt-betrayed-dog-kennel/story?id=43251043
  7. http://www.ocetisakowincamp.org/single-post/2016/11/29/Untitled
  8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/georgianne-nienaber/fcc-investigates-stingray_b_12680294.html
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