To interrupt Obama to speak out against the incarceration of Bradley Manning is certainly a justified action on many grounds, but to volunteer US$ 76,000 for the privilege somehow takes the edge of the meaning of protests. But then: you’re a protester of a special kind guess when you actually love the guy you heckle!
Protesters Interrupt Obama to Sing Support for Bradley Manning
Updated at 4:10 p.m to identify the female protester who led the song.
Protesters supporting WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning managed to infiltrate a private fundraiser for President Barack Obama on Thursday morning in San Francisco, interrupting his remarks with a song.
As Obama was speaking at the $5,000-a-plate breakfast fundraiser, California activist Naomi Pitcairn (above), sitting at one of the tables, began humming and singing a modified version of the song “Where’s Our Change?”, decrying Manning’s treatment in prison. Pitcairn removed her blazer and shirt to reveal a T-shirt with a picture of the young Army intelligence analyst who is suspected of leaking a massive cache of classified and sensitive documents to the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks.
As the rest of the group at Pitcairn’s table joined in with her song, they held up signs that read “Free Bradley Manning“.
“Each of us brought you $5,000 — we’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true. Look at the Republicans, what else can we do,” the group sang.
As White House aides escorted Pitcairn from the room, she said, “Free Bradley Manning. I’m leaving. I hope I don’t get tortured in jail.”
“That was a nice song,” Obama said as she finished singing. “You guys have much better voices than I. Thank you very much.” Then he turned back to his speech. “Where was I?”
Pitcairn told the San Francisco Chronicle that she paid $76,000 to get the protesters tickets to the event, which was held at the swanky St. Regis hotel downtown.
The protest was arranged by a new group calling itself the Fresh Juice Party, which is promising to pay protesters various amounts of money if they videotape themselves singing the song in public forums and handing out Fresh Juice bills.
Participants can earn $50 if their performance is before 20 people who are “within earshot of the song,” and $75 if the singer dons a costume. The nature of the costume is up to the singer.
The price goes up to $100 for singing the song in a Bradley Manning mask and T-shirt, or for singing within the legal perimeter of a state capitol building, the U.S. Capitol building or the White House.
The lyrics of the Bradley Manning version of the song follow.
Dear Mr. President, we honor you today, sir.
Each of us brought you $5,000.
It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign.
I paid my dues, where’s our change?
We’ll vote for you in 2012, yes that’s true.
Look at the Republicans — what else can we do?
Even though we don’t know if we’ll retain our liberties
In what you seem content to call a free society.
Yes, it’s true that Terry Jones is legally free
To burn a people’s holy book in shameful effigy.
But at another location in this country
Alone in a 6 x 12 cell sits Bradley,
23 hours a day and night.
The 5th and 8th Amendments say this kind of thing ain’t right,
We paid our dues, where’s our change?
Photo: Logan Price
Kim Zetter is a senior reporter at Wired covering cybercrime, privacy, security and civil liberties.
Follow @KimZetter on Twitter.