Protest of Army Experience Center charges army with child abuse. Seven protesters arrested.
The Army experience center is an experiment, the first of its kind. The average military recruiting facility is about 800-1200 square feet and it's pretty much an open office with some desks. The Army Experience Center is a 14,000 square foot mini-version of Disney world, with simulation rooms and a massive collection of all sizes of video screens connected to war video games.
There are two military helicopters, a Humvee and another troop carrier all equipped, in separate simulation rooms, with guns and surrounded by giant screens, where images of enemy combatants and innocent citizens are displayed.
image by the Army Experience Center on Flickr
The facility is conveniently situated directly opposite a huge Woodward skateboard park, which is a huge lure for the teenage boys they seek to hook.
I took a tour of the facility and it was represented as designed to show all the "job opportunities" the army offers. That may be true, but for the average teenager, it's a trip into a very cool, high tech, exciting video game and entertainment venue-- a seductive trip designed to get the teen to sign up, come back and stay involved.
On Saturday, a group of about 150 protesters delivered a complaint, issuing charges, issuing charges, as OEN writer Elaine Brower reported in her article on the same event, "The complaint states in part “the Army Experience Center is involved in “Endangering the Welfare of a Child” and “Criminal Solicitation of a Minor” and “Corruption of Minors” – soliciting underage persons to act in a violent manner, and thereby supporting criminal and corrupt behavior…” "
The company that designed much of the the AEC's adolescent addicting technology, Ignited, was also involved in developing video games designed to lure children into fascination with the army experience.
This protest was a remarkably well organized event, put together by a number of groups, including Coalition for Peace, World Can't Wait, Veterans for Peace, Grannies Against War, Code Pink, Iraq War Veterans...
The planning included cooperation with the mall and the Philly police department.
Protest Organizers Discuss Protest with Philly Police Lt.
image by R. Kall
First, protesters gathered at a nearby church.
Protest Gathering before march to AEC
image by Rob Kall
Whistleblower, veteran and former diplomat Ann Wright spoke.
Ann Wright Speaking before the protest march
image by rob kall
They marched a bit more than a mile to the Army Experience Center at the Franklin Mills mall, where they presented the complaint.
Protesters walking to mall, Philly Cop in front
Image by Cheryl Biren-Wright
Afterwards, some protesters sat down in the middle of the mall, in front of the AEC. Captain William Fisher, the Philly policeman in charge of the police operation supervising the event, gave advance warning that people who stayed in the area would be arrested.
Top Philly Cop Warning Protesters of Imminent arrest
image by Rob Kall
Seven protesters made a decision to get arrested.
Protester being cuffed
image by Cheryl Biren Wright
This was a very effective visibility event which brought substantial media attention and coverage.
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