While playing the new mobile-device geocaching game “Pokemon GO” in downtown Nashville Friday night, Antioch resident Sarah Steinbrenner became so focused on collecting Pokemon characters that she failed to notice she had unknowingly joined the Black Lives Matter protest march.
“At one point while we were walking along the route of the march, some of us started to notice there was this one woman in the middle of things who was just completely oblivious to all of us protesting around her” noted activist Marvin West. “She had her eyes glued to the screen on her phone the whole time and kept pretty steady pace with the rest of us; occasionally, she’d stop to toss a Pokeball, but otherwise, she seemed unintentionally along for the whole march. The lady wasn’t hurting anything or anyone, but it just felt a little awkward, y’know? I started to tap her on the back at one point and let her know she’d joined the march, but then I looked over her shoulder and saw she’d found an Arcanine in front of Tootsies and I thought ‘Hell no, I’m not distracting her from catching that! You go get ‘em!’”
The march, which followed a vigil held on the City Hall plaza Friday evening, was to mourn and peacefully protest the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers in Baton Rouge, LA and Falcon Heights, MN (respectively). Steinbrenner later told reporters that, while joining the march was not her intention, she was glad to be part of the protest after she was made aware of it. “I think it was after I caught my fifteenth Pokemon of the night that I finally decided my eyes needed a break from looking at my phone, and then suddenly I see all these people around me. I’m a supporter of equality for everyone, so it was actually great that the game led me to an important event like that. I’m just glad I didn’t wander into someplace awful, like a dangerous intersection or a Marsha Blackburn fundraiser.”
Meanwhile, Marvin West notes that Steinbrenner’s game served a useful purpose for the protest itself. “Thanks to that lady having her phone out, we were able to adjust our planned route on the fly and avoid issues. Without her, we’d have run straight into a Snorlax that was blocking James Robertson Parkway, and I don’t think any of us wanted to deal with that.”
Protest march photo reprinted with permission of photographer Hilary Morris.