US police spark outrage by using wartime acoustic weapon to disperse G20 protesters in Pittsburgh
Friday, 25 September 2009
Only a few hundreds protesters took to the streets of Pittsburgh to mark the opening day of the G20 summit of world leaders, but the police were taking no chances.
Sonic weapons or long-range acoustic devices have been used by the US military overseas, notably against Somali pirates and Iraqi insurgents.
But US security forces turned the piercing sound on their own citizens yesterday to widespread outrage. Pittsburgh officials told the New York Times that it was the first time “sound cannon” had been used publicly.
The sonic weapon appear to be more effective than the Metropolitan police’s highly contentious kettling tactics used against G20 protesters in London. But it is equally controversial.
It is feared the sounds emitted are loud enough to damage eardrums and even cause fatal aneurysms.
via UTV News – G20 protesters blasted by sonic cannon.
Pittsburgh police on Thursday used an audio cannon manufactured by American Technology Corporation (ATCO), a San Diego-based company, to disperse protesters outside the G-20 Summit — the first time its LRAD series device has been used on civilians in the U.S.
An ATC sales representative confirms to DailyFinance that Pittsburgh police used ATC’s Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). “Yes, we sold one LRAD unit to a government agency — I don’t know which one — which was used in Pittsburgh,” the representative said. American Technology Corp.’s stock was trading up over 15 percent in heavy activity late Friday.
ATC calls itself “a leading innovator of commercial, government, and military directed acoustics product offers” that offers “sound solutions for the commercial, government, and military markets.”
Pittsburgh officials said yesterday they believe this to be the first use of a LRAD “sonic cannon” against civilians in U.S. history.
“The police fired a sound cannon that emitted shrill beeps, causing demonstrators to cover their ears and back up,” The New York Times reported. For years, similar “non-lethal” products designed by ATC have been used at sea by cruise ships to ward off pirates.
“LRAD creates increased stand off and safety zones, supports resolution of uncertain situations, and potentially prevents the use of deadly force,” ATC spokesperson Robert Putnam told DailyFinance. “We believe this is highly preferable to the real instances that happen almost every day around the world where officials use guns and other lethal and non-lethal weapons to disperse protesters.”
Still, Putnam acknowledged the potential for physical harm. “If you stand right next to it for several minutes, you could have hearing damage,” he said. “But it’s your choice.” He added that heavy-duty ear-phones can render the weapon less effective. – dailyfinance