Impressions and Notes From a Day at the Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) Trial: Page 3 of 5

Impressions and Notes From a Day at the Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning) Trial

Sketch of Chelsea Manning's trial. (Drawing by Clark Stoeckley)
Sketch of Chelsea Manning's trial. (Drawing by Clark Stoeckley)

Sister's Testimony

She is a small blond with bobbed hair, from Oklahoma, who answers every question, matter of fact, without hesitation.

Casey. Brad’s sister born in 1976.
Stay at home mom.
So you have the hardest job (or something like that) (haha laughs room)
Large family – mother from Wales.
Mother can read but not sure if she can write
Dad's family is smaller
Growing up you think its normal
But when I got to be around 13-14
it dawned on me it’s a problem
Hard alcohol
Rum & coke or vodka & something
Every day drunk mom
Dad functional alcoholic
Weekends – drinks harder to relax from his job
Alcohol + mom = friendly, social, sad, depressed; and then when she wakes up the next day, mid-morning or at lunch, she is very mean. Screams to get her cigarettes or a cup of tea. Guess because she is hung-over.
Alcohol + dad = jovial and then more quiet
Mom starts drinking at lunchtime

11 year old she took care of Bradley Manning when mom was sleeping/passed out
excited when mom woke up so she could go swimming, I guess be a kid
I learned to drive when I was 11
She got real nervous. Mom just didn’t want to drive.
When she was 15 he was 4
Happy kid, played outside
Had trucks, played in the dirt

She moved out at 18, 19
Had a disagreement with her dad
School and working
He’s 8
Didn’t see brother
Cuz didn’t want to see parents
Dads job travel
Kid’s cuisine microwave
Dad set her up
Had her move back in, so he could leave

Moved back in
Mom took bottle of Valium and woke her up and told her
She called poison control and took her to the hospital
Dad didn’t want to get in the back and make sure her mother kept breathing
And didn’t want to drive because he was drunk
So sat up front, she drove
And Bradley, at age 12
Had to make sure she was still breathing in the back
Because his dad didn’t want to do it
Dad left
Mom in psychiatric ward

I'm feeling sick, listening to someone’s whole life story like this.

Anytime I left she threatened to kill herself
Missed a lot of school, called in at work, withdrew from school
So I left to go work
Because she was always threatening to kill herself, anyway
I had to go to work
Mother violent when drinking. She’s little, I pushed her, defending myself
Her mother fell down, broke her tailbone
Brad was there
Their mother was screaming
She put a blanket on her, on the floor
To sleep on the floor
Brad was 12, 13
She told him to go to sleep, to go to his room, or come upstairs to hers
And sleep on her floor
He came upstairs
The next morning the sister was asked to leave

Did your brother have friends?

I heard stories of them but never saw them.

Sometimes he hung out at the pet store, where she worked
She worried their mother would lean on him heavily,
The way she had on her.

Next time she saw him was at her wedding.
Father and new wife and son

They ask so many questions. I feel sick. So many personal questions, one after another.

Their stepmother didn’t like another woman’s kid in the house
He was kicked out after a year.
He didn’t want to be a burden,
When at 18, he slept on her couch for a few days
He left.

They pull out photographs.

Manning's sister never cries until this moment. She pulls out the tissues now.

The court is showed a slide show of photographs: baby Brad in a box with older sister, at six months old.

Is that your room?

Yes. I was really into horses.

Picture of her at the prom.

In their house after they moved

How much land?

5 acres

Swing set

Did he play sports?



I think for the same reason as me. Driving back and forth was an inconvenience

How far was the school?

4 miles.

There are more photographs, this time a cat and puppy.

He loved that puppy.
Computer, from an early age.
My wedding
At Vegas

Why did you choose Las Vegas?

A lot of folks flying in, we thought it would be better flying into Las Vegas then Oklahoma City

(There’s a group laugh here, in the courtroom.)

Did you stay in touch over the last three years?


He has matured.
It’s amazing.
It’s a lot easier to hold a conversation with him.
He has really matured.

What do you do you hope for your brother now?

I hope he can be who he wants to be . . .

After her Sister’s Testimony

Everyone is crying.
There is barely a dry eye.
There is a quick 5-minute break.
We get up when told to; and go outside.
I use the bathroom.

We have waited all day. It’s around 4 pm, but we weren’t permitted to bring cell phones into the courtroom or viewing areas so I don’t know what time it is. It’s time to go back in. One more speaker before Chelsea. We were worried for a while that it would take up all the time, the other speakers, and we would not hear Manning today. We want to hear what she has to say. “Boy this would be the time,” said one of the supporters waiting, “to have Brad go on next after that.”

And when we go back into the courtroom, Chelsea is called to the stand. Everything is slow and then it happens so quickly.

China Martens is interested in radical working class/low income/no income/poor white anti-racist history. Martens is a co-editor of “Don’t Leave Leave Your Friends Behind: Concrete Ways to Support Families in Social Justice Movements and Communities” and currently collaborating with Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Mai’a Williams to create “This Bridge Called My Baby: Legacies of Radical Mothers.”