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NYPD blasting Occupy protesters with powerful military megaphone

The LRAD is the round black device on top of the New York City police Hummer.
Among the anti-protest arsenal being used against Occupy Wall Street protesters is a sound amplifier developed by the military. The Long Range Acoustical Device can blast a small area with 110 decibels of sound, equivalent to a power saw at close range.
New York - The New York City Police Department says this sound blaster is not being used as a "sound cannon" which is what the military designed it for. They say it's just being used as a loudspeaker, so they can get their points across to a large group.
The New York Daily News reports that Police spokesman Paul Browne says,
“We don’t use it to disrupt. We don’t use it as some horrible noisemaker. We set it up away from where a crowd is. We create a 50-foot safety zone. It sends out a clear, uniform message that can be heard for several blocks.”
LRAD, the California company that invented the device says it was developed after the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 to enable naval ships to communicate with anyone approaching. The system sends out a highly magnified beam of sound very much like the way a lens focuses on a beam of light.
The company steers clear of saying that its device can be used as a weapon and doesn't discuss the potential harmful physical effects of being bombarded with ear-splitting noise at close range.
LRAD vice president of business development Scott Stuckey instead asks these questions,
“Can your car horn be used as a weapon? Can you play loud noise with the LRAD? Absolutely. They could cover their ears if it’s too loud.”
Critics warn that the devices could potentially be misused by civilian agencies and cause hearing loss, headaches or nausea. The New York Civil Liberties Union said the $35,000 devices are really only useful for communication purposes. Christopher Dunn is associate legal director,
"It clearly can be used to disperse people. They cause physical pain to make people move. Making announcements that people can hear is always good. Using a sonic cannon to disperse people is not.”
Dunn also says the NYPD currently has two LRADs.
TPM reports that as might be expected, Occupy Wall Street supporters have blasted the New York Police Department’s use of Long Range Acoustic Devices to respond to the civil disobedience actions that sprang up throughout Manhattan this week.
But LRAD Corporation's Stuckey says,
“The police are likely using it to communicate with the protesters. Megaphones aren’t loud enough to reach people over a large, crowded space, with lots of background noise.”
And in fact, the LRAD website advertises the products to law enforcement and military clients as being a variety of a high-intensity directional acoustic hailer designed for long-range communication and issuing powerful warning tones.
Occupy Wall Street protesters and supporters are trying to do what they can to block this latest onslaught. They have been circulating strategies online, ranging from using a flat object to reflect the sound back at the devices and their operators, to buying Air Force-grade ear plugs.
But Stuckey says nothing is likely to work, that his company's products enable law enforcement to communicate clearly and efficiently. He also says his company has "louder projects on the drawing board", but they shouldn't be used in the Occupy type of environment.
Still, Stuckey offers assurances that the decibel level of the handheld LRAD his company sells is “not as loud as flash bang grenades” now being used by many police departments. It was used, he says, by officers responding to the Oakland demonstrations on October 25, who detonated a flash bang after a crowd rushed to help a 24-year-old ex-Marine injured by a shot to his head by a police tear gas canister.

2 comments

#1Nov 18, 2011 Shawn Kay
The NYPD purchased that device many years ago in anticipation of rowdy protesters during the Republican National Convention (RNC). It is operated exclusively by the NYPD's Disorder Control Unit (DCU), a new unit that was formed just a few years ago (possibly around the time of the RNC) to handle the influx of demonstrations NYC was experiencing. DCU is a small but specialized force that monitors everything from peaceful protests to riots globally. They study the response that the police or military forces in those other cities, states or nations take in quelling civil disturbances and see if any of those tactics can be implemented in NYC. DCU also writes up the NYPD's guidebook on responding to both peaceful demonstrations and riots as well as training the thousands of ordinary patrol officers of the police force on riot control tactics.
#2Nov 18, 2011 Cherryl Walker
Here in New Orleans, there was supposed to be some kind of march yesterday. Guess what. The story put out that there would be thousands of marchers. There were only about a dozen.
As has been observed here at Duncan Plaza across the street from City Hall, a lot of the tents seem never to be occupied. It is as if the tents were put up for show. It is also suspected that a major percentage of the people inhabiting the encampment are actually street people who are being given tents and free food to participate and make larger crowds.
Finally, most of the locals who have had occasion to visit the area have the opinion that the whole project is a wash-out. If in reality there are only a dozen protesters on the site, then that says that people in New Orleans can see what it is all about: A dog and pony show that really speaks for no one.

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