On Tuesday, I sat in a Fort Meade courtroom, waiting to hear if Bradley Manning would be found guilty of treason. Bradley Manning’s trial (like those of hacktivist Jeremy Hammond, or Anonymous-affiliated journalist Barrett Brown) is a trial of modernity. It shows the old world lashing out against an increasingly uncontrollable future.
I was there because I know which side I’m on.
A tight community of supporters has grown around Manning. From veterans and NASA scientists to teenagers and retirees, they stand in the hot sun while drivers from Fort Meade scream insults at them. They wear black T-shirts, printed with the word truth. Many have been coming for years. They speak of Manning as a friend—or, sometimes, their child. They care for him as much as for they do for the truth his leaks represented. They take care of each other.
Bradley Manning was declared not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, but was given twenty-one counts of espionage. He faces 136 years in jail.
His sentencing began the next day. That morning, Snowden leaked yet more details about PRISM in the Guardian.
Manning will be in prison for the rest of his life. But the old world has not won. The leaks will never end. Snowden was inspired by Manning. Someone else will be inspired by Snowden. Each whistleblower learns from the last.
I sat in that courtroom with my sketchbook, and thought, Fight foul and faster, my friend. The old world is behind you.
Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer living in New York. She learned to draw in a Parisian bookstore, and once sketched her way into a Turkish jail. She writes a monthly column for VICE magazine.