Chicago cops’ new weapons
By Natasha Lennard, Salon
Monday, May 14, 2012 11:54 AM EDT
“This is simply a risk management tool, as the public will receive clear information regarding public safety messages and any orders provided by police,” Chicago Police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton told the Guardian.
However, during its first outing at a U.S. protest, during the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009, police blasted non-lethal sound waves from the device as a crowd deterrent. Unlike firing tear gas or swinging batons, deploying the LRAD does not create a dramatic media spectacle; indeed, videos from the Pittsburgh protests capture the LRAD emitting little more than a high-pitched siren. Those within the sound cannon’s range, however, have described immense pain and severe headaches and – in some cases – irreversible hearing damage. LRAD Corp., which produces the weapon for the military and domestic policing, said that anyone within 100m of the device’s directed sound path will experience “extreme pain,” according to Gizmodo (link corrected- ek).
“In Pittsburgh, they directed the LRAD at a crowd coming up the center of a wide street, then sent tear gas canisters down the sides of the street. Tear gas is painful, but everyone ran into the tear gas to get out of the LRAD path,” one protester who attended the Pittsburgh G-20 told me, asking to remain anonymous. Chicago’s Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy has recently expressed that he believes tear gas to be an ineffective crowd control device – and based on lessons from Pittsburgh, the LRAD can produce a painful enough effect to force crowd dispersal without the dramatic media impact tear gas creates; it’s certainly a more insidious weapon.
(h/t Chris in Paris)