Occupy the Truth Conference focuses on media transparency

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Between 250 and 300 people attended an Occupy the Truth Conference at UC Berkeley’s International House this weekend, which focused on media transparency and received a visit from Occupy Oakland protesters Saturday night.

The event was co-sponsored by 94.1 FM KPFA Pacifica Radio and the Fresh Juice Party, a “politically progressive media group,” according to the party’s website.

The conference began Friday evening with a panel discussion on the controversy surrounding Bradley Manning, the former U.S. Army soldier currently imprisoned for allegedly sharing national defense information on WikiLeaks.

Featured speakers on the panel included former U.S. Military Colonel Ann Wright, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern and former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers in the early 1970s and stayed overnight at the Occupy Cal demonstration on Nov. 15.

Manning will face a court marshal in early May, according to Wright.

“We can use the information that we’ve been given, respond, and when we’re in a position to do it, we can emulate (Manning),” Ellsberg said. “As we continue a hopeless war in Afghanistan and slide towards war in Iran … consider doing more than you have yet done. We are not a doomed species.”

Friday’s events concluded with a sermon by Reverend Billy, head of satirical Church of Earthalujah, who led the “congregation” in shouts of “Occupy-lujah.”

Occupy Cal and Occupy Oakland members became involved in the conference Saturday around 11 p.m., when about 40 protesters marched down Telegraph Avenue from Oakland and congregated on the steps outside of I-House.

Five tents were set up on the lawn outside of I-House to show solidarity with the conference overnight, and members of Occupy Cal cleared their encampment Sunday afternoon around 3:30 p.m. after attending the conference that day.

Although the Fresh Juice Party did not participate in the encampment, party members supported Occupy Cal’s interest in the conference, according to according to conference organizer Pratibha Gautam.

“We weren’t at the march. But we understand it was peaceful,” Gautam said. “We encourage peaceful marches and solidarity between Occupy groups.”