Members of the San Francisco Pride board of directors agreed to decide the “next step” in their handling of the Bradley Manning fiasco after listening to angry community members sound off during a raucous three-hour meeting Friday at a Castro church.
Within a week, the board of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee is expected to make a decision on several options mentioned by speakers at the May 31 meeting, held at Metropolitan Community Church-San Francisco to accommodate the large crowd. Those include reinstating Manning as a grand marshal, letting the Bradley Manning contingent lead the Pride parade, or finding an alternative honor for Manning.
Manning, 25, is the gay Army private accused of leaking 700,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks. He was initially named a grand marshal by the Pride Committee in late April. But the Pride board rescinded the honor two days later, claiming it was a “mistake.” Since then, many people have denounced the Pride board.
During the meeting, SF Pride CEO Earl Plante, board President Lisa Williams, and other board members listened quietly, respectfully, and took notes as 50 predominately angry community members used their two minutes to mostly call them liars and demand they re-instate Manning as a grand marshal.
Only three people spoke in support the board’s decision to rescind Manning’s grand marshal honor. One of them, Chris Bowman, called Williams “courageous.” When Bowman, a local gay Republican and political consultant, said the Log Cabin Republicans supported the board’s decision not to honor Manning, he was greeted with loud hissing from the crowd.
Gay radio journalist Scott Shafer with KQED moderated the meeting and tried to keep speakers civil and within their time allotment, but he was largely ignored and disrespected. This went on for two hours and 15 minutes before chaos erupted.
Daniel Kim took the microphone and angrily called Williams a murderer to her face.
At that point, Plante jumped from his seat, screaming, “Don’t call me a murderer! This meeting is over!” He started to walk out, but Williams and other board members restrained him.
San Francisco Patrol Special Police Officer Ken Craig and other community members led Kim away from the microphone.
Williams and others calmed Plante and he tried to resume the meeting, but it was out of control and no one knew what to do.
It was at that point that gay San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who had put pressure on the Pride board to hold the public forum, calmed the crowd. To a quieted audience, Campos called Manning “courageous.”
“The LGBT community is not afraid to speak truth to power,” Campos said. He suggested Manning “saw a wrong and tried to right it.”
He asked the Pride board “to move us forward collectively” and “reconsider” its decision. The capacity crowd shouted and gave Campos a standing ovation.
A noticeably frustrated Plante and the board tried to answer questions from speakers, but there was little order and nothing he or board members said were popular with the crowd.
At end, the board agreed to decide on “the next step” in seven days. Local attorney David Waggoner and others demanded an immediate decision before the meeting ended. The board declined with treasurer David Currie doing most of the talking and being shouted down by the crowd.
Williams managed to end the meeting. She and Plante quickly exited the church.
The Bay Area Reporter will have more coverage of the meeting in Thursday’s edition.
– Reported by James Patterson
[This post has been updated to reflect that not all the speakers were angry.It was also updated to correct that Mr. Kim's comments were directed at Williams, not Plante, and that Plante got up but did not jump over the table.]