CRESCENT, Okla. — The news that Bradley Manning, the Army private sentenced this week to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified documents, intends to live out the remainder of his life as a woman has drawn mixed reaction from the Oklahoma town where he once lived.
Manning announced plans Thursday to begin hormone therapy and live life as Chelsea Manning. The soldier, 25, was sentenced Wednesday after having been found guilty of 20 charges ranging from espionage to theft for leaking more than 700,000 documents to the WikiLeaks website while working in Iraq in 2010.
Rena Guay is executive director of the Oklahoma Center of Conscience of Oklahoma City, which is a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network. She said Manning’s announcement is old news and believes the media is using it as a distraction to the real story of Manning’s conviction.
“My first reaction is it is an indication that the media hasn’t been paying attention to this case because Bradley Manning’s gender-identity issue came out in 2010 shortly after he was arrested,” she said. “That has been out there for a while, and I don’t understand what all the hoopla is all about. This is a distraction. To me, it is a black eye for the media that is sensationalizing this.”
Though Manning has supporters, there are others in Crescent, a community of 1,400 about 35 miles north of Oklahoma City, who disagree with his actions.
City Manager Ed Stanton was quick to point out that Crescent wasn’t Manning’s hometown, as many media outlets have previously reported.
“The young man is not from here,” Stanton said. “He just went to school here. There is kind of a misconception that this is his hometown. He just lived here for a short time and moved on.”
Stanton said though he couldn’t speak for the entire community, the feedback he has received from residents has been negative toward Manning.