Protest at the Army Experience Center

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The Army opens up a hi-tech recruiting center in order to continue adventuring abroad.

On Saturday, May 2nd, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Veterans for Peace and the Delaware Valley Veterans for America all joined forces to protest the Army Experience Center, the hands-on, multimedia exhibit designed to sell war to the young as a fun, bloodless, mess-free game. Read More & Photos

More Coverage: Criminal Complaint Served and Seven Arrested at the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia Mall by Elaine Brower |
Is Army Abusing Children With its Latest Experiment, the Army Experience Center? by Rob Kall | SHUT DOWN the KILL school by Bill Perry | Confronting Army's Phila. experiment by John Grant



The Iraq Veterans Against the War, the Veterans for Peace and the Delaware Valley Veterans for America all joined forces to protest the Army Experience Center, the hands-on, multimedia exhibit designed to sell war to the young as a fun, bloodless, mess-free game.

assembly point

St. Lukes Church, where we assembled at.

outside signs

The United Church of Christ and DelValVets working together. OpEd News takes a look at the AEC:

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. 



Yeah, that's a "sort-of" American flag Robert is holding. Sandy, another veteran, contributes photos of the event.


A simple fact that needs to be stated and re-stated.

last-minute speeches

Speeches before we headed off. We had some counter-protesters across the street who were trying to drown us out. That worked on the quieter speakers, but not on the really assertive ones.


A reporter questions one of our people as the march continues. It was about a mile between the church and the AEC.


We had a complaint from a commenter on PhillyIMC who basically thinks that these efforts are misdirected and that we should be paying attention to problems closer to home. The AEC is a nationally-organized and funded and directed effort to assist US efforts to involve itself in areas where we're getting lots of our kids killed and where we're really not helping the people of those other lands (Iraqi casualties since the March 2003 invasion are over 1.3 million. The displaced, both internally and scattered to other lands, is 4.2 million). What is the problem in Philadelphia's poor neighborhoods? It's complex, scattered and diffuse. It's not at all clear what the exact problems are and even less clear what the solutions are. The AEC is a clear and specific target where our efforts can have a discernable impact in helping humanity in general, not just in our own neighborhoods.

head of march

Bill Perry of the DVVFA contributes a photoessay on the march, identifying a number of the specific people that took part in the march and actions afterwards.


The mall that housed the AEC.


Got pretty loud as we demonstrated right outside the AEC. Elaine Brower describes the scene inside:

People stopped to listen, and really couldn’t believe what was happening.  I myself, was part of a group of protesters who donned death masks and the names of fallen soldiers and stood directly in front of the AEC, which was at that point surrounded by police. 

But that didn’t stop us from demanding that it be closed and they should cease and desist corrupting our youth.   Those of us in death masks stood silently by and watched the rest of the group shouting at the recruiters.  “Stop stealing our kids” “No wars for empire”, “SHAME ON YOU!” to the endless pounding of drums.


protesters in masks

Most of us went away when the police started threatening to break us all up, but some stayed and did a few hours in jail.


Bring them HOME now!

What a awesome photo display, the diversity...this really touched me tonight, awesome collection of shots, must read article now, the shots blew me out of the water..

These really are great photos....

Thanks for compiling this, Rich!

Thank y'all most kindly!

Much appreciated!

In answer to some critics

Some letters in the Inky today echoed some of the things that the counter-protesters were shouting at us during this event. The following is my answer to those people:

Two LTEs in the Inquirer ("Waterboarding killed no one" & "Show both sides of torture") on Tuesday made the same point "Al Qaeda and various and sundry other enemies, are evil. Therefore, there can be no rules when dealing with them. There can be no concept of restraint or decency when fighting them."
The peace movement's answer to that assertion is that "Yes, al Qaeda and others are evil. No, that does not mean that America must surrender all concepts of decency. America is not just a mere, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill nation. America was founded to strive for the honor of being considered the 'City on a Hill,' the nation that all people could look up to as an example."
A secondary point is that no one has shown us, given eight years of historical data, that "taking off the gloves" has resulted in any discernible improvements in our national security. No one can point to any solid gains achieved via the torture of prisoners or by any other extralegal methods.
In fact, by our disgracing ourselves, by Americans dragging their own good name through the mud, we have actually reduced our security. We've made jihadists more likely to enthusiastically take up arms against the US.
What happened when our current president took office? Al Qaeda called him a "negro." Why? Because they're deeply distressed that Barack Obama will present to their recruits a better American face, a face that's harder to fight, a face that doesn't confirm the jihadist view of America as a land of trigger-happy cowboys who shoot first and can't be bothered with questions later. This was an image that served al Qaeda very well and it angers and frustrates them that Obama has made that image obsolete.


presentation Rich but we disagree as to what's the proper approach in stemming violence . I , and many other's who responded to the Demo, believe it, the objection to violence, should start in the streets here in the Phila. community . The Demo groups target is the Military but teaching killing also starts in the streets of Phila. drug areas.
We agree to disagree but our main focus is to stop the killings but our priorities are vastly different..yours as related to Military...ours/mine as to community and as a community, the PARENTS oversee what their children participate in and need no outside "parenting"(their words). Unfortunitaly, the inner city drug area households are a one parent "family" so the youngins look up to the "conor boys"

just my thoughts
jon pisano

Another good one...

This is up at Opednews.com:


Draft of speech given on May 2nd, 2009 to protest the Army Experience Center

My name is Jesse Hamilton. I served nine years in the U.S. Army, four in the 101st Airborne Division, three as a Drill Sergeant, and one as an embedded advisor to the Iraqi Army in Fallujah. Upon returning from Iraq, I received an honorable discharge and joined Iraq Veterans Against the War.

I can think of very few things in life that rival service to one’s country, and to the many in the crowd who have served or who have family members that served, my thanks goes out to you. That being said, service to one’s country does not necessarily require a rifle; it requires only the will to stand up for the ideals upon which this country was founded.

The final line of the Drill Sergeant Creed is as follows: “But first, last and always, I am an American Soldier, sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” Defense of the Constitution does not always have to be synonymous with war or killing, but that is obviously not the message portrayed by the Army Experience Center.

Over the last eight years, Soldiers have been forced to transition from defenders of the Constitution, to defenders of dividends for corporations such as Lockheed Martin and Halliburton. It is what a sagacious Dwight Eisenhower warned of when he spoke of the military industrial complex almost 50 years ago, and a concept preached by Smedley Butler when he correctly stated that “War is a racket.”

With high tech simulations that revolve around killing, The Army Experience Center shifts the focus of military service from passive defense of our nation to aggressive and expeditionary warfare. It draws in the youth of our nation with the intent of glorifying combat rather than service itself. The simulations do not depict defense of this country’s soil, but instead are set in terrains more likely found in Iraq or Afghanistan. This is not the type of defense envisioned by our founding fathers. In the words of John Quincy Adams “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” In The Army Experience Center, however, that is all America does.

I’ve known many Army recruiters, and they are all good people. Most are career Soldiers, and have been in the Army between 6 and 10 years. None that I’ve known have volunteered for the position. They, like most Soldiers, are not autonomous, but simply the face at the end of what has become the military industrial complex, peddling a war with which they may not agree. They are not the enemy, but the place in which they are forced to work is.

The Army Experience Center is an abomination. It epitomizes the turn for the worse that the military was forced to take over the last eight years. It is misleading, it targets impressionable minors, and it propagates the glorification of war. I am utterly disgusted that the Army which I loved and in which I served so long has resorted to such a deceiving recruiting strategy; one based on unrealistic combat simulations. I have seen the horrors of war. I have seen the pools of blood and lifeless eyes of men with holes in their head. I have heard the gibberish and moans of men who just lost their legs. I have felt the trembling hands of those scared because death is so close. War is hell on Earth. It is NOT a game.

I’m proud to be here with all of you, and thank you for having me.


you for posting that Hans. It was truly inspiring but also there are other views as to the "experience". My son was...excuse me...IS a Marine and has served his country as did the above DS. We/he all have different issues and point of focus and it's up to the individual to decide the direction . I have mine, as you well know, and you Hans appear to post others view instead of posting YOUR OWN without relying on statements or op-ed articles you draw on.

Jon Pisano

What IS your point?

Are you just looking for attention or do you have some serious point to make here?

If you are referring to me Rich,

I believe I have made my point and respond to articles with my opinion and that of others. As far as looking for attention,I believe that question should be directed to another person

jon pisano

Lemme take off my

PhillyIMC editorial collective hat and put on the hat of a drama or an English teacher critic. Your points are boring and repetitive. Your entries in response to this particular post simply repeat what you've said elsewhere.
One could make the argument that Hans keeps saying the same thing "The Government is once again unjustly and inappropriately putting or keeping someone behind bars. Here's why I think the person is innocent."
Your response is usually "The judicial system did its thing and the person(s) were found guilty."
But at least Hans keeps looking at different cases and constantly brings up fresh evidence. With you it's just a repetitive drumbeat.
Speaking as a drama critic, it's boring and predictable.

I guess

I'm not as "editorially" correct as you but, here I go as predicted, Hans does NOT, in my opinion, bring fresh evidence into anything he has posted nor does O'Connor or the MOVE 9/8. If there were an ounce of evidentiary credibility on anything he/they have in taking up the causes of the "downtrodden" murderers I would support that cause. So happens I see things in a different way and you slap me for that view, my response structure and English.

jon pisano

Looking through the "Angola 3" piece

I found what I consider to be several conclusive pieces of evidence with which to say the defendants were innocent, followed by your judgement "No evidence."
Hans produces pieces with an enormous amount of "evidentiary credibility," but you respond to it all with knee-jerk accusations.
It's not a matter of mere style and sentence structure. You're taking a very bull-headed view and keep repeating yourself over and over.

My response

is IF, IN FACT, there were an ounce of CREDIBAL factual evidence, would not the defense attorneys have pursued it to the fullest? And IF they did and have done, the reviewing courts would examine such and order the proper remedy...BUT that has not happened in this case OR others that come to mind (predictable response):) What I'm trying to get across here Rich is these high profile cases have some of the BEST attorneys available along with several support groups and NOTHING shows their efforts are supported by factual evidence which would PROVE, without a doubt, their client innocence...none

jon pisano aka..knee jerk bull headed johnny

And yet...

in our "Headlines" section, we refer to a piece in Narco News which is exactly the type of high-profile case you're referring to and their reporter produces a 23-kilobyte piece showing us that the governments case has all sorts of holes in it. Sorry, but no sale.

High profile case

you posted. I will check that out and give my opinion. What we are referring to as related to Hans postings...and yours is what is perceived and what is factual. I have read your bio and I don't know your history other than that which is posted but I will give you a little insight into mine.

I was born and raised in the Frankford section of Phila. My parents were Italian immigrants and were referred to as "dagos". I grew up on the streets of Phila. and I bet I have witnessed more as a child than most. THIS and the fact I was a Police Officer, has given me and my family more insight as to the real world than the "privileged" and I will always question the validity of those who state innocence after many many years of court confrontations. You have your world and I have mine.

Jon pisano
" Facts will lead to truth, truth will lead to Justice"

I certainly wouldn't discount experience

but neither do I consider it the only way to understand what's going on.
I've always been good at parsing documents and I've always had a high degree of empathy (Yes, that very quality that conservatives are saying is so unnecessary in a Supreme Court Justice).
I went to college in Washington DC from 1978 to 1982 where there were lots of Iranian students, so I was entirely unsurprised when the Iranian Revolution of 1979 occurred. I saw a piece a few years ago which said "Wow, we know so much more now about the wars in Central America in the 1980s then we knew back then" and proceeded to list three things that had been "discovered," all of which I was aware of at the time.
When President Bush made his speech about the upcoming Iraq War in 2002, I read the whole thing beginning to end and concluded it was a war for oil. The extended Bush clan had about 15 young men and women who could easily have served during the Iraq War. None of them signed up. Hey, why would you sign up for personal endangerment when the whole point of the war was just to make money?
The "Dean" of the press corps, David Broder, grandly predicted that some obscure political group would become an electoral powerhouse in 2004. I looked at them and said "Nah. they'll get lots of contributions from centrists, but they're going nowhere." Their last act before disintegrating was to support New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for President.
I've made lots of predictions based on my knowledge of human nature and through the careful parsing of what people say and write. Sure, there's a lot to be said for "Joe the Plumber" type hands-on wisdom, but I certainly don't agree that life experience is the be-all and end-all for understanding things.



Footage from a rally, march, and demonstration to protest the Army Experience Center (AEC) at the Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The AEC is recruitment pilot program being tested in the Philadelphia area with intentions of spreading to other malls across the United States. Video games and flight simulators are used to bring youth in and introduce them to the military way of life. Speakers at the rally include an Iraq war veteran, retired military, a Gold Star mother, clergy, and other concerned citizens.

More media coverage


Oh, and the "Gathering of Eagles" folks will be doing a pro-AEC demonstration:

Army Veterans Ride Across the City of Philadelphia to Show their Support for the U.S. Army and the Army Experience Center

PHILADLEPHIA, PA - In an effort to show their support for the United States Army and the Army Experience Center (AEC), 100+ Army Veterans will gather together to participate in motorcycle ride across the city of Philadelphia. Veterans groups will ride along surface streets from South Philadelphia to the AEC, in Northeast Philadelphia, to demonstrate their pride towards Soldiering. The purpose of the ride is to showcase their support for Army initiatives, such as the AEC, which helps American's gain a better understanding of what it's like to be a Soldier. After arriving at the center, AEC staff will salute all Veterans in attendance to recognize their military service to the nation.

WHEN: Saturday, May 9, 2009

Rally Time: 12:15 pm
Kickstands Up: 1:00 pm
Arrival at AEC: 1:30 pm

Off Duty Cops Pretending to be Bikers

Gathering of Eagles? I have seen them in action over the last few years. They are keen to jump on old people. But face to face, they aren't much. No thought at all.

They often fly Confederate flags, and wear bumper stickers on proclaiming that they would have been on the losing side in the Civil War.

They are mostly at events to try to provoke a response so that their friends on duty, other cops, can then arrest the people they were attacking.

Don't take the bait. Best to just show up in much larger numbers and keep your distance with lots of people taking film footage and legal observers so you can protest yourselves from the charge that you attacked them and beat them up.

Monique Frugier's YouTube


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