Chelsea Manning was unable to attend the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of XY Chelsea. (It's pretty hard to go to a film festival when you've been locked up by the U.S. government with no release date in sight.) But one of her close friends and supporters was there, and she shared a message on the whistleblower-turned-activist's behalf.
During a moderated panel discussion following the documentary's premiere at New York's SVA Theatre on Wednesday, moderator Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter asked the panelists -- which included XY Chelsea director Tim Travers Hawkins and journalist Janus Rose, among others -- what message Manning would share with the audience if she were there with us. Rose, a member of Manning's support committee who worked as a spokesperson during the political prisoner's Senate primary campaign last year, said that Manning would want us to know that she's not "extraordinary" -- that "every person has the ability to take a stand."
"We don't have to wait for politicians to get on board with the ideas that we want to put out in the world," Rose said. "We need to envision the world that we want to see, and we need to make it happen by building it, brick by brick, and not wait for people who don't act in our interests to come along and help us. That's always been her message -- that we can do it ourselves. We can engage in mutual aid, help each other, and not go through these institutional processes that don't have our interests in mind."
Manning, who served seven years of a 35-year prison sentence for leaking government documents to WikiLeaks, was jailed on March 8 as punishment for refusing to answer a grand jury's questions about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (In XY Chelsea, her legal counsel call the grand jury a "perjury trap.") She requested release on bail last month, citing "grave" medical concerns, but a court rejected the bid. She remains incarcerated at the time of publication.