On Monday, November 2nd, seven defendants, flanked by their eye-witnesses and friends, appeared at Philadelphia Municipal Court for trial based onarrests at the "Army Experience Center" on May 2nd of this year. The charges against us stemmed from a protest which began at St. Stevens Church, and followed by a lively and raucous march to the Franklin Mills Mall where the "AEC" is housed. Escorted by Philly Civil Affairs police, and some local PD, hundreds of people gathered outside the storefront violent video gaming center aimed at pre-teen military recruitment, and voiced their dissent.
The hundreds that joined together shouted and chanted "SHUT DOWN THE AEC" and "WAR IS NOT A GAME!" and were determined to stop any of the youngsters trying to enter the center to spend their time playing war games on our tax dollars. Oddly enough, those of us who were arrested, placed ourselves in a silent vigil in front of the AEC, wearing death masks in all black clothing, and hanging around our necks were the names of the dead soldiers and Iraqis killed since the illegal and immoral invasion of that country.
Civil Affairs officers stood amongst all of us, and watched. Of course, we were videotaped and photographed compliments of the police the entire hour of our protest. There were about 10 of us in our silent vigil, facing the rest of the crowd out in the mall, with our backs to the police and AEC. I guess after the police decided that we had reached the limits of our free speech time, they announced they would start arrests.
The Captain in charge stood in the shouting crowd and pointed directly to us and said "and we are going to start with them!"
There we were standing quietly, somberly and very still, while hundreds of people were chanting, banging drums, yelling, carrying signs and making a ruckus. Civil Affairs started grabbing us by the arms and one by one placing us under arrest. By the time they were done, they arrested 6 vigilers and then one other person who simply asked "why are you arresting them, they aren't doing anything." So he was carted off immediately for asking a question.