Fort Meade officials plan to close the main gate of the Army base in Anne Arundel County on Saturday, but police said they didn't not have plans to limit traffic on surrounding roads during a mass demonstration for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning.
Officials expect hundreds to march in support of Manning, the former Potomac resident and Montgomery College student who has acknowledged giving hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
Manning has been charged with aiding the enemy and violating the Espionage Act. His court martial begins at Fort Meade on Monday.
Base officials announced several measures Thursday that they said were intended to reduce traffic congestion and ensure the safety of neighbors:
•The main gate, located at Reece Road and Route 175, will be closed from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
•The gate located at Rockenbach Road and Route 175 will be expanded to three lanes and will be the primary gate for visitors and others entering Fort Meade.
•Access to the Fort Meade Normandy Bluffs neighborhood located at Reece Road and Route 175 will be restricted to residents and their guests. Residents should be prepared to show a Department of Defense identification card. Visitors to the neighborhood must give the address and phone number of the residence they are visiting.
•The gate at Mapes Road and Route 32 will remain open.
•Army reservists traveling to reserve centers on Route 175 should be prepared to show their military identification cards to enter the parking areas.
•Events at Meade High School and Meade Middle School will continue as scheduled. Anyone attending these events should enter the installation from the Rockenbach Road gate starting at 1 p.m.
•Anne Arundel County police will monitor traffic along Route 175 and may reduce traffic to one lane or close the road dependent upon the size of the crowd and the safety of demonstrators. If the road is closed, traffic will be diverted to an alternate route.
•Demonstrators have received permission from Anne Arundel County to park at locations off the base on Reece Road: Meade Heights Elementary and Van Bokkelen Elementary School. Drivers should expect to encounter pedestrians on Reece Road as demonstrators travel to and from the gathering site.
Officials asked drivers to avoid Route 175 on Saturday. They said Anne Arundel County police, Maryland State Police and the Fort Meade Directorate of Emergency Services are working closely on planning and coordination in preparation for the gathering.
Organizers of the demonstration say 1,000 will participate in the march at 2 p.m. and hear speakers at 3 p.m., with buses coming from Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia, New York and New England.
Scheduled speakers include Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Vietnam War-era Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and other newspapers; retired Army Col. Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in protest of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq; and Birgitta Jonsdottir, the member of the Icelandic parliament who co-produced video footage released by WikiLeaks of a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack in Baghdad in which civilians were killed.
Supporters of Manning have held occasional demonstrations throughout the pre-trial proceedings since they began in November 2011. Base officials said the demonstrations all have been peaceful and orderly.
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