Yesterday GamePolitics utilized Twitter to provide live coverage as anti-war demonstrators staged a rally and march against the U.S. Army Experience Center in Philadelphia. The experimental recruiting facility located at Franklin Mills Mall uses an elaborate video game setup equipped with high-end gaming PCs and Xbox 360s to attract potential recruits.
For those who didn't catch yesterday's Twitter feed, I've pasted it below as it offers a detailed chronological picture of how the protest evolved; ultimately it would end with the peaceful arrest of seven protesters by police (see pic at left).
Here's the Twitter feed, including my answers to some questions by readers at the end. My tweets are in blue:
# LIVE Twitter coverage of protest march against US Army video game recruitment center in Phillly today. Please RT: http://tinyurl.com/cy9olkabout
# Heading down to Philly now to cover protest march against Army video game recruitment center
# Scattered showers here in philly, but I don't think it will interrupt the protest march targeting the US Army video game recruiting ctr
# Rain has stopped and sun is out. Weather will not interfere with today's protest march against US Army video game recruiting center in phila
# Protest starting soon. My crowd estimate is maybe 100, so somewhat less than what protest organizers were hoping for. There is at least [one counter protester here] (this message was truncated by Twitter)
# Looks like a peaceful crowd as u might expect for antiwar protesters. Generally older, average age 40+
# Philadelphia PD is on hand, both uniformed and plainclothes. They are low profile, seem to be coordinating w protest leaders (click "read more" below for the rest of the report)
# Local Fox news crew just showed up. Crowd has swelled a bit, now about 150 here
# A bit late getting started with their rally but they are doing a sound check now... A counter protester is getting heated
# Speaker now starting. But being drowned out by counter-protesters with a very loud speaker system... Saying very bad things about protesters
# Protesters are losing battle of the speaker systems, but the counter protester seems to have left for some reason.
# Oops, I spoke too soon, he's back. 1 thing interesting about this protest, it is generally anti-war, not just against use of games.
# Gold star mother who lost son in war calls for crowd to shut the Army Experience Center down. Now an Iraq veteran is speaking
# Now some singers are crooning anti-war songs... I believe the march to the mall will begin soon
# The leader of the protest is now reading the criminal complaint which they will carry to the mall in a few minutes. Mall is about a mile off
# I'm standing near a couple philly cops who are discussing who has "the paper" (i.e. Who writes report) police here [have] been very professional
# March jumping off now with police escort
# March now heading down Knights Road. Marchers chanting, "war is not a game, close the AEC" (army experience center) all peaceful
# They are still marching. I wonder if they will be allowed onto mall property to serve their complaint?
# They are coming up on mall property, chant has changed to "war is not a game, US military has no shame"
# we have arrived at the proper mall entrance In time for yet another chant: "what do we want? Close the AEC when do we want it? Now"
# A cop told me that the protesters WILL be allowed to enter mall... That surprised me a bit. Now in mall parking lot. Crowd's energy lvl up
# Now in the mall, outside the aec. About two dozen police lined up at aec entrance. Protest ldr now reading their complaint
# A few in crowd have donned plain white masks... Not sure but they seemed to come from inside the aec
# Wow, aec is really an impressive looking facility. Big comfy seating area. Looks like 15+ PC screens , half-dozen big flat screens
# Leader now presenting complaint to aec recruiter and mall guy. Crowd chanting "shut it down" is drowning everything out
# Ldr says protesters can leave mall and they will hold a public vigil outside somewhere
# Guy from protesters just took my pic because I have been on periphery taking pix. I explained that i am covering for GP
# still at entrance to aec. Protesters making speeches.Head of police detail just announced they have 5 more minutes and then have to leave
# Police gave protesters 5 minute warning, just about up now
# Police captain said protesters had to leave now or be subject to arrest.
# Wow, about a half-dozen of the protesters in the white masks just got arrested. Hooked up with plastic cuffs and led away by police.
# I think they planned to get arrested for symbolic reasons... Leader just announced that 7 were arrested. All in plain white msks
# Protesters are out of the mall now in the parking lot... Wondering where the arrestees are being taken, passing hat for their legal expenses
# About 50 protesters clustered in the mall lot. Now some people are singing anti-war songs
# The protesters are beginning to head home. I have to walk the mile back to my car now. Will post some pix and video on GP...
GP: When I returned home I had a chance to answer some of the questions posed on Twitter by those who were following my live updates:
ezknight@GamePolitics any chance you got a copy of that complaint?
# @ezknight I didn't, but I think a copy is available... about what you would expect in terms of content: game recruiting = evil
cimino15@GamePolitics people need to lighten up videogames ARE USED by soldiers as simulators just like formula 1 drivers use them to train reflexes
# @cimino15 these protesters definitely would disagree although I think they were more of a general anti-war group. games just today's issue.
Jonny_Tango@GamePolitics what are they protesting
# @Jonny_Tango they have a website: http://tinyurl.com/cf3cxd
mykalgaidin@GamePolitics Are there numbers on the efficacy of AEC as a recruiting tool? Is it more effective than traditional recruitment offices?
# @mykalgaidin I don't know that info, not sure the Army knows, yet. This AEC is the prototype. If it is successful, others will be opened
beemoh@GamePolitics Is it possible that one person might be allowed in with the complaint itself, but the rest of the crowd not?
# @beemoh they let the whole group in. I was amazed, but it was probably a smart strategy. Protesters get to make their point and then leave.
HBAdventure@GamePolitics This is why peaceful protest is so ineffective. Nobody's scared of a bunch of 40-year-olds
# @HBAdventure in the end, the 7 people who were arrested appeared to be much younger.
AdamR621@GamePolitics I think that old Marines ad where he slays a dragon was a much more misleading representation of war :P
# @AdamR621 I remember that commercial!!
CydeWeys@GamePolitics Thanks for covering this protest, I wouldn't've even heard of it otherwise.
# @CydeWeys NP, Cyde... it was so close (30-minute drive), how could I NOT cover it? I have to say, it was pretty fascinating to see up close
Xeacons@GamePolitics Good Luck. Watch your back
# @Xeacons Thanks - made it home in one peace., er...piece! LOL
GP: Thanks to everyone who followed my live Twitter coverage!