Tag Archives: SF Pride

BUSTED! – SF Pride CEO Earl Plante Lies To The Press Over Bradley Manning Debacle

SF Pride Earl Plante

It”s been a bad two weeks for San Francisco’s LGBT Community.

At this week’s San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor David Campos, addressed the ongoing debacle of SF Pride

Campos called Pride’s actions “unprecedented”and added that as an organization receiving city funding they must give members of the public the opportunity to weigh in on the decision, and they must allow for a timely appropriate debate despite the fact that SF Pride has said the matter is closed, without any meaningful discussion from the community

Campos subsequently sent the following letter to the San Francisco Pride Board:

To Executive Director Earl Plante, Board President Lisa Williams and members of the Board of Directors of San Francisco Pride:

I am writing to express my concern over the recent actions of the leadership of Pride in the wake of the controversy surrounding the naming of Private Manning as a Grand Marshall for this year’s parade. The decision to rescind this honor is unprecedented and the community has every right to be concerned about the consequences of this abrupt, top-down directive. Most importantly, however, is the obligation Pride has to be accountable, transparent and representative to the diverse LGBT community it serves. As an organization which receives City funding, Pride has a responsibility to operate with transparency and accountability, and to allow for timely appropriate discussions with the community as needed. The failure of Pride leadership to do so in this circumstance is contrary to this responsibility.

Controversy is not a new phenomenon to Pride festivities, nor is it a valid reason for Pride not to fulfill its responsibilities to the broader LGBT community. The recent statement made by Pride that the discussion on this matter is “closed” is disturbing, and may serve to further divide the community and foster long-lasting resentments.

I urge Pride to hold an open community discussion on the matter of Private Manning’s awarding and rescission as Grand Marshall, and ask that this meeting be held as soon as possible and before the June Pride festivities. We must remember that Pride was born as a tribute to the courage of the LGBT community, and walking away from this discussion is contrary to that legacy.

Sincerely,

Supervisor David Campos

In an interview last night with the Bay Area Reporter , LGBT Pride Celebration Committee CEO Earl Plante stated that the Pride board “agrees in principle” with Campos and is working with the supervisor to secure space for a community meeting in late May or early June, before Pride festivities saying  they are finding it hard to find a place that will hold the expected crowd (Despite the fact that the San Francisco LGBT Center is directly across the street from SF Prides office and can accommodate large groups.)

Plante was also adamant that no corporate sponsors ever contacted them about the inclusion of Manning as a grand marshal and asked that he be withdrawn,  and went on to state that no LGBT military folks pressured SF Pride to withdraw Manning’s honor and calling the  “vile” comments directed at Lisa Williams on various social media sites,  “reprehensible.”

“I, as CEO, will not tolerate Lisa or anyone on our board being in harm’s way,” Plante said. “We can’t have a dialogue with people engaged in violent attacks.”

It was also mentioned that LGBT Pride Celebration Committee led by Plante has also fired a low-level staff member who handled the press releases for the Pride Marshall announcements.  While Plante would not name the staffer, calling it a “personnel matter” it has been learned that SF Pride staff member Joshua Smith who sent the confirmed list of grand marshals out has been indeed let go.

Now when SF PRIDE becomes so big that it has a CEO that makes $200.000 dollars a year of money that is donated to the Pride celebration that the first sign that something is seriously wrong.

Plante has a long employment history of “professional” LGBT advocate and in the Bay Area Reporter article  he speaks about the LGBT community in the authoritarian tone designed to marginalize people who might be upset with the horrendous handling of Bradley Manning situation and to avoid the criticism the that SF Pride so rightfully deserves in this matter.

But most disturbing is the fact that Earl Plante blatantly lies in the article when he says that “no military folks pressured them”

The American Military Partner Association President Stephen Peters called on SF Pride to remove Manning.  Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried, co-chairman of the board of directors of OutServe-SLDN, called San Francisco Pride’s choice of Manning  a “complete insult” to those currently serving in active duty.  And  it is well documented that the Sean Sala the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego Pride (the nation’s first-ever pride appearance of uniformed military members)  not only called and told SF Pride to remove Manning but also called for a national boycott of the Pride celebration and started a petition against SF Pride.

Plante also lied about the “vile hate smears” and allegations of “violent attacks,” against SF Pride Board members which he has no evidence to back up, was never reported to authorities or witnessed by others.

If nothing else this proves that Plante is not only unfit for the job which shouldn’t be in existence to begin with but also that he should resign at once.  As should the entire current SF Pride Board who handled this situation so badly and with such blatant disregard that they have tarnished SF Pride and damaged it beyond repair if they stay.

Perhaps its time to remind Earle Plante and the Board of SF Pride that the Pride commemorates STONEWALL which was about community, freedom and courage.

Not lies, corporate image and bullshit.

*Special thanks to Roy McKenzie and The Castro Biscuit

 

Protestors outside SF Pride Board offices credit Roy McKenzie, Castro Biscuit)

SF Pride Board Cancels Promised Follow-up Public Meeting on Bradley Manning

Protestors outside SF Pride Board offices credit Roy McKenzie, Castro Biscuit)
Protestors outside SF Pride Board offices (credit: Roy McKenzie, Castro Biscuit)

After this shit-show debacle that was a public relations nightmare last week at the San Francisco Pride Board’s office, the Pride board released a statement on Mother’s Day on their Facebook page stating that they were canceling the resceduled pre-Pride meeting to discuss the deselection of Pfc. Bradley Manning as Honorary Pride Grand Marshal for this year’s SF Pride celebration,

“We are seeking a larger venue for the next SF Pride membership meeting, and so are postponing the May 14th meeting until a suitable location is secured. We want to allow people to have a chance to voice their opinions about the recent controversy, but also have a large event coming up, and do not want to let one issue, as important as it is to some, overshadow the concerns and interests of the hundreds of thousands who attend SF Pride.

SF Pride’s decision concerning the election process of Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal being consistent with SF Pride’s long standing Grand Marshal election policy is firm. Thus, the discussion of that matter is closed for this year.

A meeting in a larger venue after the 2013 Celebration and Parade will allow people from all sides of that issue and others to fully air and hear one another’s viewpoints, without jeopardizing the production of this year’s event and the safety and security of the attendees. We ask everyone in the community to come together in Pride this June, recognizing that we can embrace difference without violence and hate.”

Last week the Pride Board held a “public meeting” to consider re-inviting Manning. Michael Petrelis, a San Francisco-based LGBTQ activist, posted a video of the chaos that ensued on his blog. Local news stations were turned away and only a handful out of the 100+ people were allowed to come in and speak. Whistleblower during the Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsberg, was allowed only two minutes to speak. After he spoke he was quickly ushered out of the board room and onto the street. In the video he was asked how it went to which he responded, “I can hardly speak I’m really quite disgusted.”

Integrity: lost.

Pride will have a lot of work to do if they want to try to gain back what integrity they had left before selling out to Bank of America and Wells Fargo and denying activists and the community at large the transparency and respect that they’ve fought so hard to attain.

Pride Board President, Lisa Williams, is a fool. Have an Absolut-ly great time at the Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Corporate Pride Jerk-Off Parade. You won’t see me there except for marching head-on in protest into this embarrassment of a “Pride Celebration.”

 

SF Pride Issues ANOTHER BS Statement In The Bradley Manning Debacle, Denies Activists Free Speech

Bradlee Manning Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The schadenfreude saga of San Francisco Pride and Bradley Manning continued last night with San Francisco Pride issuing yet another statement in which they tried to cover their asses once again this time by coming up with another bullshit reason on why Bradley Manning was unceremoniously tossed from being an honorary Grand Pride Marshall at this years festivities and attempting  to bar  over 125 LGBT activists who came to complain about their decision at the SF Pride board meeting which is supposed to be open to the public last night

In a press release issued late Tuesday S.F. Pride changed their tune and now states that the reason they denied Manning as honorary Grand Pride Marshall is because he’s not a “local” despite SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams previous statement that the choice of Manning was ” an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country”

STATEMENT FROM THE SF PRIDE BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
“For the past four decades, SF Pride has stood firmly to advance its mission to educate the world about LGBT issues, commemorate LGBT heritage, celebrate LGBT culture, and liberate LGBT people.  It remains a considerable honor and utmost commitment to engage the community to recognize those persons who have positively advanced the LGBT liberation movement, representing the full spectrum of contributions to advance full equality for all.
Presenting various categories and criteria for annual parade grand marshal nominees offers SF Pride and the community a broad range of opportunities to recognize and honor a diverse range of individuals and organizations for their achievements on behalf of LGBT people. Grand Marshal Categories include Celebrity, Lifetime Achievement, Organizational, Community, Special Guests, and Pink Brick.
 
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.  The Electoral College was not the appropriate forum for his nomination.  The longstanding Grand Marshal Policy provides that one community grand marshal shall be elected by an electoral college composed of Community Grand and Honorary Marshals elected or appointed since 1999.  Grand Marshal/Pink Brick Policy, Sections 3.3 and 5.2.3.  Under that longstanding policy, the community grand marshal upon whom the Electoral College votes is defined as “a local hero (individual) not being a celebrity.”  Grand Marshal/Pink Brick Policy, Section 5.2.3.
 
Because Mr. Manning is not local, by definition under the Grand Marshal policy, he may not be nominated or elected by the Electoral College as its community grand marshal.  The SF Pride Board determined that because the nomination and election had been conducted in the incorrect forum, the election could not be upheld as valid.  Mr. Manning might rightfully qualify as a nominee for Celebrity Grand Marshal or another community grand marshal spot, but not as the Electoral College’s nominee, as a matter of longstanding, written policy.
 
The integrity of the elections process and procedures are important to SF Pride and the community.  Those that nominated Mr. Manning surely knew that he is not a local, Bay Area community member, and that he should not have been voted on by the Electoral College.  His nomination is more appropriately debated and voted on by the public than by a small group, and it could be next year when nominations open.
 
Taking sides in the controversy concerning Mr. Manning’s conduct is not appropriate for the organization and falls outside its core mission.  We apologize to Mr. Manning, knowing that he did not ask to be at the center of a community firestorm, and for any harsh words that may have been said about him.  In the end, SF Pride recognizes that becoming embroiled in the controversy concerning the merit of Mr. Manning’s conduct was an honest mistake.  However, because the Grand Marshal/Pink Brick policy precludes Mr. Manning from being nominated for, or elected as a community grand marshal by the Electoral College, SF Pride stands by his disqualification on those unequivocal policy grounds.
 
Moving forward, in the spirit of fairness and to respectfully honor the contributions of qualified nominees, the SF Pride Board is re-opening the Electoral College’s voting process so that it may select a Community Grand Marshal from the remaining two, duly qualified nominees for the 2013 Community Grand Marshal: Bebe Sweetbriar and Associate Justice Jim Humes. Members of the Electoral College will have until May 16 to re-cast their vote. 
 
Shortly before this statement was released, SF Pride received a complaint filed against it at the San Francisco Human Rights Commission concerning Mr. Manning.  This statement is not a response to that complaint, and SF Pride will be responding to that complaint in the proper forum, not in the press and/or at board meetings.”
This is the new excuse that it took SF Pride two weeks to come up with.
To make matters even worse if that possible at last nights SF Pride Board Meeting which is supposed to be open to the public the SF Pride Committee attempted to shut out over 125 LGBT activists that came to protest their decision.
You can read a first hand account of last nights SF Pride meeting and its very undemocratic and conduct and treatment of LGBT activists over at San Francisco activist Mike Petrelis’ site The Petrelis Files

SF Pride Backlash Continues, Peter Thatchell And Others Respond To Removal of Bradley Manning

SF PrideThe backlash continues against SF Pride as Britain’s best know human rights and LGBT social movement advocate and activist Peter Thatchell among others has responded to San Francisco Pride’s Executive Director Lisa William’s statement released on Friday about the “mistake” of appointing PFC  Bradley Manning as Honorary Grand Pride Marshall at its 2013 Pride festivities.

Manning who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the website WikiLeaks which included videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike which showed an American helicopter firing on a group of men in Baghdad which were a journalist, and two other Reuters employees, the 2009 Granai airstrike in Afghanistan which killed approximately 86 to 147 Afghan civilians and 250,000 United States diplomatic cables which were widely seen as a catalyst for the Arab Spring.

Wrote Thatchell:

San Francisco Pride has revoked the nomination of gay rights advocate & military whistleblower Private Bradley Manning as Grand Marshal of this year’s Pride parade.  SF Pride leaders are wrong on facts, ethics & politics. Bradley revealed US war crimes & cover ups.

Manning is a hero – a defender of democracy and human rights, based on the principle that citizens have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. Bradley should not be in prison. The charges should be dropped. Set him free. Instead, put on trial those US soldiers who killed innocent civilians and those who protected the perpetrators.

Bradley Manning is a true patriot, not a traitor. Bradley reveres the founding ideals of the US – the ideal of an open, honest government accountable to the people, that pursues its policies by lawful means and respects human rights.

At great personal risk, Manning sought to expose grave crimes that were perpetrated and then hidden by the US government and military. These are the characteristics of a man of conscience, motivated by altruism. There is no evidence that his leaks harmed anyone. Thanks to Manning, we, the people, know the truth.

Bradley Manning acted in the spirit of the gay liberation pioneers. Make Bradley Grand Marshal of San Francisco Pride.”

Peter Tatchell

Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation

SF  Pride’s Executive Director’s Lisa Williams statement on Friday removing Manning as honorary Pride Grand Marshall in reality has caused even a bigger backlash against the organization due to Williams outrageous handling of it in which she not only blamed a lowly SF Pride staffer but also personalised her  highly negative feelings while admitting that the committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals who makes the decision of who will be Pride Marshall’s did indeed select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the honor, but the Pride Board decided his choice would be a mistake (after grumblings from a handful od politically connected LGBT military advocates, Gay Inc. and corporate sponsors)

Wrote Williams in her statement:

Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration…..that was an error and that person has been disciplined…….a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen.….will not be tolerated…..a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. SF Pride repudiates this vote. Bradley Manning….will not serve as an official participant in the SF Pride Parade.

Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system.  However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.  It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country.

As Kevin Gosztola of Fire Dog Lake  is quick to point out Williams did not simply go through the motions and make a statement clarifying he would not be honored like military factions of the LGBT community wanted.  She herself put forth a robust condemnation of Manning fueled by her own perceptions.  Gostola also reveals that the bio for Williams on the SF Pride page shows she works for a “political consulting and community advocacy” group that serves Democratic Party politics and that she “organized satellite offices for the Obama campaign.” She also is the PAC chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition.

Scott Long at his blog on sex, rights and the world called “Paper Bird” highlights the irony that a person who chairs a coalition that is supposed to celebrate Rustin is fueling the vilification of Manning.

Rustin, if you remember, was one of the great figures of 20th-century America: a pacifist, a war resister, an icon of civil disobedience, and the key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington. (Also a gay man). Rustin spent three years in Lewisburg Penitentiary as a conscientious objector during the Second World War.  The quote (slightly tweaked) came from a citizen of West Chester, PA, back in 2002, who objected to naming a school after Bayard Rustin. After all, the traitor broke US law, encouraged others to do likewise, and opposed the military and domestic policies of the United States.

Glenn Greenwald of the UK Guardian whose article titled: “Bradley Manning is off-limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced”  also points out SF Prides “ethical standards” aren’t really all that ethical after all

Manning will not be tolerated but there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event’s sponsors who are welcomed with open arms.  The list is here. It includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability (including a lawsuit brought in San Francisco against those corporations by their customers who were illegally spied on). Last month, AT&T was fined by OSHA for failing to protect one of its employees who was attacked, was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn’t want, and is now being sued by the US government for “allegedly bill[ing] the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web.”

The list of SF Pride sponsors also includes Bank of America, now being sued for $1 billion by the US government for allegedly engaging in a systematic scheme of mortgage fraud which the US Attorney called “spectacularly brazen in scope”.

Another beloved SF Pride sponsor, Wells Fargo, is also being “sued by the US for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages over claims the bank made reckless mortgage loans that caused losses for a federal insurance program when they defaulted”. Last year, Wells Fargo was fined $3.1 million by a federal judge for engaging in conduct that court called “highly reprehensible” relating to its persecution of a struggling homeowner. 

Also in Good Standing with the SF Pride board: Clear Channel, the media outlet owned by Bain Capital that broadcasts the radio programs of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck.

So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine.

Weather Manning was a good choice or a bad choice that is besides the point now.  Whats now become the focus now is not only the issue of integrity and double standards on SF Prides part but also on the leaders of the LGBT community whose fear of upsetting the connected few and the political machine is nuetering and silencing community from speaking out  freely making statements while they take millions from corporations that have hurt us and the American people.

Is this the price we will have to pay for our equality?

But in the end the better question is if this really the  way we want to achieve it.

 

 

SF Pride Caves In, Bradley Manning WILL NOT BE Grand Marshall – Read the Statement

Bradlee Manning Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

After 24 hours of intense debate both critical and supportive SF Pride Board President Lisa Williams has issued a statement saying that PFC Bradley Manning who is charged with leaking of releasing more than 750,000 documents of various levels of governmental classification through WikiLeaks WILL NOT BE an honorary SF Pride Grand Marshal after all.

Williams who released the  statement late Friday blamed the “snafu” on an  employee of SF Pride saying that had prematurely notified imprisoned intelligence specialist Bradley Manning this week that he had been selected for the distinction but noted that the committee of former San Francisco Pride grand marshals who make the decision did indeed select the 25-year-old Manning, who is openly gay, for the honor, but the Pride Board decided his nomination would be a mistake.

“In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning,” Williams said. “However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The staffer has been disciplined and does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride,”

Rainey Reitman, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network who had cheered the short-lived recognition.

“I and many other LGBT Manning supporters are deeply disappointed by this sudden change in position on the part of the committee,” Reitman said. “Bradley is a gay American hero who sacrificed a great deal so we could learn the truth about our government, and he was fairly elected to serve as grand marshal in the parade

You can read San Francisco Pride President Lisa Willams full statement below.

“Bradley Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year’s San Francisco Pride celebration. His nomination was a mistake and should never have been allowed to happen. A staff person at SF Pride, acting under his own initiative, prematurely contacted Bradley Manning based on internal conversations within the SF Pride organization. That was an error and that person has been disciplined. He does not now, nor did he at that time, speak for SF Pride. 

Bradley Manning is facing the military justice system of this country. We all await the decision of that system. However, until that time, even the hint of support for actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform — and countless others, military and civilian alike — will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride.  It is, and would be, an insult to every one, gay and straight, who has ever served in the military of this country. 

There are many, gay and straight, military and non-military, who believe Bradley Manning to be innocent. There are many who feel differently. Under the US Constitution, they have a first amendment right to show up, participate and voice their opinions at Pride this year.  Specifically, what these events have revealed is a system whereby a less-than-handful of people may decide who represents the LGBT community’s highest aspirations as grand marshals for SF Pride. This is a systemic failure that now has become apparent and will be rectified. In point of fact, less than 15 people actually cast votes for Bradley Manning. These 15 people are part of what is called the SF Pride Electoral College, comprised of former SF Pride Grand Marshals. However, as an organization with a responsibility to serve the broader community, SF Pride repudiates this vote. The Board of Directors for SF Pride never voted to support this nomination.” – Lisa Williams

WikiLeaks PFC Bradley Manning Chosen As Grand Marshall of San Francisco Pride Parade

Bradley manning pride marshall

Bradley Manning, the LGBT Army intelligence specialist who’s accused of releasing more than 750,000 documents of various levels of governmental classification through WikiLeaks be one of the grand marshals of the San Francisco Pride celebration this summer.

As many applaud SF Prides bold choice some LGBT military activists are furious.

Gay military activist Sean Sala (who I have personally never heard of)  reacted by saying about Manning “He is a traitor,” and has called call for a nationwide boycott of the festivities unless they remove Manning.

“Bradley Manning is currently in Military tribunal for handing over Secret United States information to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. His actions endangered the lives of thousands of service members and their families across the globe. Manning has admitted to be the leaker.
 
As the organizer of the 2011 Active Duty Military March in San Diego Pride and working with the Pentagon to approve the first ever Uniformed Military march in a Pride parade, I am appalled, infuriated and sad. San Francisco has spit in the face of LGBT Military by using a traitor to our country as a poster child. They are not using Manning for anything they truly admire, only to boost their attendance and garnish more currency for their parade.
 
Manning makes Gay military, the Armed Forces and cause of equality look like a sham. He deserves no recognition.
 
I am calling all LGBT Military and national LGBT news to announce a boycott for San Francisco Pride. Specifically LGBT Military, Active and Veterans of all Branches.
 
This is a sensitive time for the LGBT Community, we have spent fifty years trying to garnish equality and Manning cannot and will not represent Gay Military patriots.”
But Manning does have his supporters including Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Michael Moore, Daniel Ellsberg, Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Iraq Veterans Against the War, the San Francisco Labor AFL-CIO Labor Council and famed LGBT activist Peter Tatchell
LGBT Military and HIV activist Ian Finkenbinder who was one of the protestors who worked passionately for the repeal of DADT and handcuffed himself to the White House fence has this to say.
“As someone who joined the effort to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell after being discharged from the United States Army’s Military Intelligence Corps, I applaud PFC Manning’s actions and commend the SF Pride committee for taking a stand against corruption and deplorable military and political practice. As LGBT communities gain greater acceptance in our society and political arenas, we can look to Manning and those like him as an example of great integrity. Our integration into these institutions need not come at the cost of our soul as a community, and I would be proud to consider myself a battle buddy to this exemplar of truth and justice.”

Manning will be represented, at San Francisco Pride by Pentagon Papers’ whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

>*Back2Stonewall stands with San Francisco Pride on its decision and DOES NOT support a boycott of San Francisco Pride.