SF Pride Parade’s embattled organizing committee has decided to hold a public forum on the controversy surrounding the selection of accused Wikileaks whistle-blower, PFC Bradley Manning, as one 2013′s Honorary Grand Marshals, after previously issuing a statement that the discussion on the topic was closed earlier in the month.
As we’ve been posting, the ensuing firestorm of local, national and international attention to this back and forth story resulting from Manning’s invite/disinvite originally prompted the Pride Board to hold a public meeting to hear community opinions. That initial meeting on May 7th was canceled shortly after it began according to the Board due to crowd size hoping to comment vs. room size available, rescheduled for May 14th so better space could be secured and then canceled altogether again.
Following the May 14th cancelation the Board issued an edict that the subject of Manning’s selection was now closed and would be re-opened after the 2013 event was concluded. At that time the Committee also released a press statement naming local drag personality and tireless community fundraiser, Bebe Sweetbriar, would replace Manning. While applauding Ms. Sweetbriar’s selection Sup. David Campos wrote the Board a strongly worded letter expressing his concerns about the cancelation of the community forum, the lack of transparency in the current process and Pride’s rambunctious handling of the whole affair.
On Friday May 24th, prior to the long Memorial Day Weekend, SF Pride issued a statement on their Facebook page, a post on their website, and in an email to their mailing list they once again have had a change of heart and will hold a public forum to hear from the community around this issue following Sup. Campos very public but diplomatic ‘read’.
The statement says in part:
Thank you for your patience regarding the rescheduling of our community meeting to discuss the recent Electoral College voting. The integrity of the elections process and procedures are very important to SF Pride and the community at large. The SF Pride Board recognizes and regrets the recent error in the announcement of Mr. Bradley Manning as the Electoral College’s Community Grand Marshal. As promised, in the spirit of fairness and transparency, we are calling for an open forum where we can hear the full range of the community’s concerns.
We continue to be open to peaceful and constructive conversation with set ground rules but will not condone violence in any form moving forward. To ensure that community members have the opportunity to speak along with securing the safety of all attendees, we will have security on the premises.
The Board asserts there have been credible threats to their safety as a result of the controversy from those angry over their decision to disinvite. In the three protest I’ve attended covering this story I haven’t witnessed any violence, threats or destructive behavior from those who disagree with the Board’s view.
The Board states that the meeting has a hard end time and will not go past that appointed hour. They encourage all who wish to comment either for or against their decision regarding Manning’s pick as Hon. Grand Marshal to do so .