A group of protesters broke into song during President Barack Obama's speech at a breakfast fundraiser in San Francisco today, featuring a soloist who pleaded the case of the soldier being held for allegedly releasing documents to Wikileaks. The group at her table held up signs reading "Free Bradley Manning." The vocalists won't recoup the $5,000 their tickets cost, but they may cushion their losses, as the stunt is apparently part of a campaign from a group offering cash for people who sing this particular protest song in public.
According to Wall Street Journal pool reporter Carol Lee (who must have enjoyed the break in an otherwise uneventful event), a woman wearing a white suit stood up shortly after Obama began his address to the 200-strong crowd. Backed up by her nine table-mates, the soloist began her musical number. "Mr. Obama looked to House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was seated in the audience, and asked, "Nancy did you do this?" Ms. Pelosi stared at the singer with a look on her face that definitely said she did not." The woman was ushered out quickly.
So who put her up to this? The lyrics to the song, and a sound file to learn the tune, appear on the Web site for a group calling itself the Fresh Juice Party. Not really a "party" per se, but more of a "gimmick," Fresh Juice offers $50 to $100 for videos of people singing its song in public:
- $50 in a public forum showing at least 20 people in surrounding areas within earshot of the song. Clearly show us your audience and venue in the video.
- $75 for singing in a costume in a public forum showing at least 20 people in surrounding areas within earshot of the song. Clearly show us your audience and venue in the video.
- $100 for singing the song in a Bradley Manning mask and t-shirt in a public forum showing at least 20 people in surrounding areas within earshot of the song. Clearly show us your audience and venue in the video.
- $100 for singing within the legal peramaters of the steps of your State Capitol Building, the U.S. Capitol Building or the White House.
Fresh Juice appears to be linked to Courage to Resist, an activist group that supports members of the military who go against U.S. war efforts. Unfortunately, no video of this morning's stunt seems to be online yet, but we'll keep an eye out. Meanwhile, here are the song lyrics:
Dear Mr. President we honor you today sir
Each of us brought you $5,000
It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign
I paid my dues, where's our change?
We'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true
Look at the Republicans - what else can we do
Even though we don't know if we'll retain our liberties
In what you seem content to call a free society
Yes it's true that Terry Jones is legally free
To burn a people's holy book in shameful effigy
But at another location in this country
Alone in a 6x12 cell sits Bradley
23 hours a day is night
The 5th and 8th Amendments say this kind of thing ain't right
We paid our dues, where's our change?