Army's Shopping Mall Game Center Shut Down By Protests

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The Army Experience
Center, an amusement hall built in a Philadelphia area shopping
mall to make killing and dying look like fun to kids, has been the
focus of repeated protests and criticism. This past weekend hundreds
again protested at the AEC, and police arrested six protesters and
one journalist. The journalist was not with the protesters, and
was picked out of a crowd, apparently because of her professional
camera.

Days prior
to this long-planned and publicly announced protest, the Army announced
that it would probably be closing the AEC and not opening others
in other shopping malls, as had been planned. The reason? Are you
ready to hear this? Wait for it …

The Army doesn’t
need any more recruits, because the bad economy has driven up recruitment
significantly.

Now, the grain
of truth in there is that the economy has driven up recruitment.
The whopper of a lie is that the Army could ever be satisfied with
its recruitment numbers and not want more. And the glaring omission
is the protests. Protesters should not fall for this. The Army will
not announce our victories for us. We have to claim them. We drove
Alberto Gonzales out of town, we made the Iraq War illegal by turning
the United Nations against it, we have held back military recruitment,
we have prevented an attack on Iran by exposing the lies about Iraq,
we scared Bush away from pardoning his subordinates’ crimes, we
have turned the American people against wars of empire, and we have
made the Army Experience Center a bad experience for the Army.

Seven
were arrested
, six of whom were risking arrest: Debra Sweet,
Elaine Brower, Sarah Wellington, Joan Plune, Beverly Rice, and a
young man whose permission I haven’t obtained to use his name. The
seventh, Cheryl Biren, was covering the event as a journalist for
OpEdNews. The police came away from those risking arrest, and picked
Biren out of a crowd of onlookers to arrest her, possibly because
she had a professional camera. She did not have a shirt or sign
or anything associated with the activists. She made clear that she
was a journalist. Then she
and the other five women
spent the night in the Roundhouse,
the central jail in Philadelphia.

Here
are the photos the police did not want you to see.

Biren told
me: "The images that are most critical to me as a photographer
and reporter are those at the end of protesters being arrested.
Trying to prevent me from (or punishing me for) taking them reminds
me of Bush not allowing photos of the caskets of dead bodies coming
home from war. The way in which they try to prevent us from recording
this kind of news in the making is shameful. It’s anti-democracy.
I stand by what I did."

Rightly so,
and all who participated, and the six who risked arrest are heroes
as well.

"The action
against me was violent and vengeful," Biren told me. "A
police officer rushed me from the side suddenly where I couldn’t
see him approaching and pulled me forcefully into the line of protesters.
Later, another officer had to physically pull this officer off of
me because he was so incredibly aggressive and enraged. I’m convinced
it was because I was taking pictures of the arrests."

The picture
above was taken at 5 a.m. Sunday after these six women had been
in custody since about 3 p.m. the day before. It was still pitch
black when the police tossed them out onto the streets of Philadelphia
and locked the door behind them, not allowing them to turn on their
cell phones before they left the building. The young man arrested
was released later at 9 a.m.

The arraignment
for the charges of criminal conspiracy and failure to disperse is
being held on September 23 at 11:30 a.m., at least for the six women.
Supporters of civil liberties are encouraged to show up at:

Philadelphia
Municipal Court
506 CJC
1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia.
Map: http://bit.ly/Arraignment

Reprinted
from Global Research.

September
15, 2009

David Swanson
is the author of the new book Daybreak:
Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union
by
Seven Stories Press. Visit his
website
.

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