pardon chelsea manning
After pressure from Bernie Sanders, Puerto Rican independence activist wins commutation
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has been personally campaigning for the Rivera pardon.

Oscar Lopez Rivera, a Puerto Rican independence activist convicted 35 years ago of a conspiracy against the U.S. government, will be freed from prison after President Obama commuted his sentence. Although lower-profile than the pardon of Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier convicted of giving classified information to WikiLeaks, the Rivera pardon has another distinction — it was personally campaigned for by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

In May 2016, before the Democratic primary in Puerto Rico, Sanders drew attention to Lopez Rivera’s imprisonment. It didn’t rise to great prominence as an issue, and Hillary Clinton easily won the primary.

But from that point, Sanders was invested in the cause that had also attracted the support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and “Hamilton” songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda. In October, Sanders recorded a video with his campaign group, Our Revolution, telling the president that “all over the world, in the United States and in Puerto Rico, thousands and thousands of people are demanding that” the “Vietnam War hero” Lopez Rivera be released from jail.

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We did it guys!

I want a Diya Vij

I want a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for president. I want a person who continues to survive genocide for president and I want an undocumented immigrant for vice president and I want a black man with a criminal record and time served for president and a trans woman of color who has managed to survive past her 35th year for president and I want someone from the janitorial staff at the Goldman Sachs FiDi office for president. 

I want a baby born with unknown allergies developed from their mother’s GMO-filled breast milk in the cabinet and a teenager from Flint, Michigan with lead in her lungs to run the EPA and a person with mental illness to dismantle the prison industrial complex.  I want an environmental scientist for president and a performance artist for vice president. 

I want a president who will turn the White House into a shelter for homeless youth, not just as a daily reminder of the kids the state has ignored, abandoned, and left to rot but to turn it into a real home for real people with real lives. 

I want Alicia Garza for president. I want the spirits of Michael Brown, Freddie Grey, and Sandra Bland for president, and the mothers of Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Kendra James, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Alton Sterling for president. I want Black lives to matter and white lives to fight to make that our reality.  

I want Emit Till for president. 

I want a desi for president. Someone who understands that colonial tactics turned us into a culture of uncle tom’s and that it’s time to stand with our fellow POC - queer, Black, Latino, and native—instead of serving white supremacist systems of capitalism.

I want a veteran from the War on the Poor for president. I want a president who fought every day to survive just to beg on the streets and the subways for a nickel, a quarter, a dollar, while they watched their brethren fall dead from meth, depression and hunger. 

I want a president who has a plan to reintegrate Wall Street bankers and hedge fund CEOs into society. I want a president who understands that the rate of recidivism into the wretched plague of greed is far too high and has a plan to address it. 

I want an abolitionist for president. Someone who will turn blue lives into nurse lives or farmer lives or sanitation lives, lives that will support life and care for the Earth. I want a president who doesn’t equate ethical reasoning with laws and understands that crime and punishment are linked to law and order are linked to colonial repression. I want a president who doesn’t conflate democracy with rigorous capitalism, someone who chooses rehabilitation over prison slave labor and someone who praises the heroic effort of the thousands of prisoners currently on strike. 

I want a president who will pardon Assata Shakur and indict David Duke, pardon Chelsea Manning and indict Dick Cheney.  

I want a sex worker for president. A person who centers on the power of their own sexuality, has survived the brutal sexual violence of hetero-male entitlement and seen him walk away unpunished. I want a president who is acutely aware of the importance of real sex education—one that considers pleasure, self-defense, and respect for the boundaries and preferences of others. I want a president whose preferred pronouns are they/them  

I want a Muslim woman for president. Someone whose every prayer is surveilled by the FBI. I want a president whose children’s school was bombed by US drones and whose hospital was leveled by air strike. 

I want a Palestinian for president, someone who is living through apartheid and surviving the ethnic cleansing of their people—someone who will finally sever ties with Israeli occupiers of land that is not theirs, has never been theirs, and should never be theirs. 

I want a disabled person for president, someone who lives in a world built to segregate them. 

I want a president who fights for their family. I want a single mother for president. Someone who walked from Honduras and crawled through the deserts from Juarez to El Paso to save their family from the inevitability of death by US-backed drug lord leaders, only to find themselves in the land of the free, detained by ICE. I want a president who understands that borders are an imperial tool for control and peaceful migration has always been part of human survival. I want a Syrian refugee for president. 

And I want to know why any of this is radical.

And I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always bought, always a war hawk and never a dissident; always a strategist and never accountable.

– Diya Vij

Don’t thank Obama for pardoning Chelsea Manning. He allowed her to be imprisoned in the first place. He did nothing to advocate for her release until now. He did not free Chelsea Manning; transgender organizers and revolutionaries, prison abolitionists, and leftists, and all who oppose the capitalist state, freed Chelsea Manning. The state imprisoned her. Never forget that.
—  Devin Cole via Facebook