Thousands of people will soon view my social justice art in the following two exhibits:
April 5 is the fourth anniversary of Chelsea Manning's leak of the Collateral Murder video of footage from an Apache helicopter which shows trigger-happy soldiers killing twelve civilians. Manning, former US intelligence officer, also leaked massive troves of documents which include details about war crimes committed by US army personnel, such as the condoning of torture and killing of innocent civilians in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Four years after the releases, not one of the people implicated of war crimes in those documents or in the Collateral Murder video has been prosecuted. Rather, Chelsea Manning was arrested on May 29, 2010, charged with 22 crimes, endured a three-month court martial throughout the summer of 2013, and was sentenced on August 21, 2013 to 35 years in prison. As of the writing of this article, she has been in jail 1405 days, or almost four years.
The Iraq and Afghan war logs, the Collateral Murder video, and the US State Department cables which Chelsea Manning revealed to the world demonstrate her awareness of abuses of power in the United States government. Private Chelsea Manning took the risks she did because she longed for public debate of unjust US policies.
In addition to the opportunites for intelligent debate presented by the leaks themselves, Chelsea Manning's trial also provided a grand opportunity for the world to discuss the policies of the powerful US government and military. But cameras were not allowed in the courtroom of the historic trial. Because the court martial proceedings, which began on June 3 and ended on August 21, 2013, were mostly ignored by world's mainstream media outlets, Van Poolen contributed her energies and abilities to the citizen-initiated efforts to get the truth out to the publc.
Deb attended each day of the trial and created many drawings of Chelsea Manning, the defending attorneys, the witnesses for both sides, Judge Col. Denise Lind, and members of the attending publc. Deb's drawings and paintings were regularly featured on the Private Manning Support Network website as well as in other publications such as rt.com and popularresistance.org.
In Spring of 2013 Deb received grants from the Western Carolinians for Peace and Justice in the Middle East (wcpjme.org) and a St. Louis-based war tax resisters group for the purpose of producing artwork about the everyday lives of Palestinians who since 1948 have been enduring illegal occupation of their homelands by Israeli Defense Forces.