Artist Clark Stoeckley, the owner of the mobile performance art piece known as the WikiLeaks truck, is one of a handful of activists and reporters that consistently attend Bradley Manning’s trial, which resumed today. Even so, guards at Fort Meade weren't sure what to think when earlier today Stoeckley cruised up to the base in his truck.
Given that the US military has banned army personnel from looking at anything related to WikiLeaks, it's no surprise that military personnel may have been unsure how to deal with a guy driving up in a WikiLeaks box truck. One blogger has called Stoeckley’s constant presence at Fort Meade a “symbolic slap in the face," and it's clear he's at least made his presence known. Earlier this month, canine units searched his truck before Stoeckley was given permission to park on the base, and whenever he enters or leaves the base he is accompanied by a police escort.
In a brief phone interview, Stoeckley explained that the army personnel “descended on the truck” following a “change of command ceremony." He then proceeded to “play with them” by asking them seemingly naive questions like “What is this about?”
“They were like, ‘It’s the Manning trial, and I was like, ‘Who is Manning?’” laughed Stoeckley. “Some were laughing, some were pissed, and it was really confusing to them why my truck was on the base and how it got there,” he added. “It was the topic of conversation while they were going back to their cars.”
Besides giving rides to activists from New York City to Fort Meade, Stoeckley also draws the courtroom proceedings and uploads them to Flickr, making him a well-known fixture at Manning’s trial. In fact, he announced his illustrations and first-hand accounts would be published in a book to be released this upcoming October.
Dealing with authorities while driving around in his truck is nothing new for Stoeckley. Back during the height of Occupy Wall Street, Stoeckley’s truck was seized, searched and temporary lost by police, for example.
As of this writing, Stoeckley’s truck is still rustling the jimmies of guards and NSA guys at Fort Meade. And so far, Stoeckley’s seemingly gentle trolling of Fort Meade appears to be a healthy give-and-take between the artist and law enforcement: While speaking to me over the phone, an officer was writing Stoeckley a ticket.