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Government The Almighty Buck The Military Technology

G20 Protesters Blasted By "Sound Cannon" 630

Posted by kdawson
from the background-music-by-disaster-area dept.
aaandre sends word of the use of a "sound cannon" on G20 protesters in Pittsburgh. Only a few hundred protesters took to the streets. The NY Times notes: "City officials said they believed it was the first time the sound cannon had been used publicly." The device projects a narrow beam of extremely annoying sound, at levels that can reach 151 decibels, over a distance of a mile or more. The Guardian notes, "It is feared the sounds emitted are loud enough to damage eardrums and even cause fatal aneurysms." Officials of the company that manufactures the sound cannon say that ear damage is only possible if someone manages to stand directly in front of the device for an extended period.
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G20 Protesters Blasted By "Sound Cannon"

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  • by CubeNudger (984277) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @04:46PM (#29550251)
    Our weapons are only deadly if you stand in front of them!
  • by craklyn (1533019) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @04:46PM (#29550255)

    You have the right to freely assemble, everyone knows that. But nowhere - in no so-called constitution - does it say you also have the right to hear when you're assembled. Nor do you have the right to leave the assembly retaining all your ability to hear.

    Once we learn our civic rights, and what we're not entitled to, we'll be a much happier and easier people for the government to govern.

  • WHAT? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @04:48PM (#29550275)

    It's interesting that there's a Geneva Convention on weapons specifically designed to cause blindness [wikipedia.org], but apparently nothing about deafness.

  • by meerling (1487879) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @04:52PM (#29550307)
    Ever seen the results of a panic in a crowd?
    They can't maneuver to save their lives, literally.
    Extended periods in the area of effect is going to be absolutely unavoidable.

    I know the people pushing for these weapons show "examples" of targets getting out of the way quickly and efficiently. Of course, these are rigged. The targets are trained individuals (often military or police) who are in limited quantities (never seen more than a dozen at once) and are not panicking because they know exactly what's going to happen, exactly what to do, and how to evacuate the test area. That is as much of an unrealistic situation as using the film work of a Hollywood stuntman to show that it's safe to fall down stairs.
    • by JLF65 (888379) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:01PM (#29550377)

      Well, if people would RTFA, they'd see the "brief periods" is not how long you stand in front of the weapon, but how long they use it. As mentioned in the article, riot police used a "brief blast" that caused the crowd to recoil, giving the riot police room to safely use tear gas and bean bag projectiles.

      The police don't turn this thing on and leave it running. That WOULD cause deafness. They only use it as needed in brief bursts. I'm sure there's probably some "training" they make the users of the device go through, just like the training they do for the Taser.

      • by Entropius (188861) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:16PM (#29550507)

        Isn't it rather disgusting that police feel the need to use multiple sophisticated weapons against a group of people guilty only of "marching without a permit"?

        Dispersing a crowd by force is something that should only be done in extreme circumstances. From TFA it doesn't look like this qualifies.

      • by Mprx (82435) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:18PM (#29550513)

        "OSHA also states that "exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not exceed 140 dB peak sound pressure level" (CFR 1910.95(b)(2))"

        This thing runs at 151db, and it's a tight beam so there'll be little volume loss with distance. No matter how brief the blast it will cause hearing damage. This is a device designed for permanently disabling people without visible damage, and it should be banned under international law just as blinding weapons are. Everyone who makes/sells/uses this device should be executed for war crimes.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ColaMan (37550)

          Further to the impulse specs, I'm reasonably sure that maximum recommended limits for noise here is 85dB for 8 hours before it is likely that some sort of long term hearing damage will occur.

          Each 3dB increase halves the exposure time. Just for fun, let's work some numbers.

          88dB = 4 hours
          91dB = 2 hours
          94dB = 1 hour
          97dB = 30 minutes
          100dB = 15 minutes
          103dB = 7.5 minutes
          106dB = 195 seconds
          109dB = 97.5 seconds
          112dB = 48.75 seconds
          115dB = 24 seconds
          118dB = 12 seconds
          121dB = 6 seconds
          124dB = 3 seconds
          127dB = 1.5 se

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tibman (623933)

          There is actually two settings on the LRAD, normal and maximum. Maximum can only be unlocked with a key. Normal settings wouldn't damage anyone's hearing/ears. From the videos i'm guessing it's on normal.. or people seriously would have been running away from it.

      • by node 3 (115640) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:56PM (#29550821)

        They only use it as needed

        I saw no situation in which this weapon was "needed" at all. Was the mob dangerous?

        just like the training they do for the Taser

        The training is apparently, "this is safer than a gun, so fire away!"

        Never, ever, ever should a taser be used when someone's safety isn't at risk. Ever. But you see it used as a compliance device all the time. We are not the police's slaves. But step out of line, boy, and you get the lash.

      • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:56PM (#29550825)

        They only use it as needed in brief bursts. I'm sure there's probably some "training" they make the users of the device go through, just like the training they do for the Taser.

        Therefore just like the Taser [amnestyusa.org], this weapon will never be abused.

      • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@hacki s h . o rg> on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:07PM (#29550947)

        just like the training they do for the Taser.

        Since police routinely abuse the Taser, this isn't much of an assurance.

  • Sounds fishy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @04:57PM (#29550347) Journal

    Next thing you know they will tell us that all that water usage at a Space Shuttle launch is not necessary for sound suppression, and it's perfectly safe to have yourself right next to the shuttle launch, your hearing won't be blasted to kingdom come.

    All loud sounds are damaging, no matter how short the bust actually is. The hair follicles within the ear cannot grow back, once damaged that's it. That's why we have progressively worse hearing in old age.

  • Wow... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Facegarden (967477) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:04PM (#29550419)

    That is fucking horrible! Why do they even need to disperse a crowd of only a few hundred people!? I know that if I were there, it would just piss me off, and make me want to attack the vehicles! I'm normally a peaceful guy, but when people unfairly fuck with me, I just makes me pissed off.

    Plus, seems like some $0.50 earplugs would be a good defense against this, if someone had the forethought to bring them... Or maybe that would be "resisting... something" and you'd get arrested? Ugh, this is really fucked up.
    -Taylor

    • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Funny)

      by Dunbal (464142) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @05:32PM (#29550647)

      Plus, seems like some $0.50 earplugs would be a good defense against this,

            Not really. There's something called bone conduction, and it actually accounts for around 70% of your hearing. Your skull literally conducts the sound to your inner ear. This is also why your voice always sounds weird when you hear a recording of it played back to you.

            So the 150 decibel annoying noise would probably only be around 95 decibels with earplugs, but even that is pretty loud. Especially if, as another poster noted, they were playing Celine Dion. Then it would be past the pain threshold.

  • by Hatta (162192) * on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:02PM (#29550899) Journal

    The use of agents provocateurs is standard practice at these sort of events. You can't legally break up a peaceful riot, so you send men in, incite the crowd, and then break up the riot you started. It happened at the last G20 in london [guardian.co.uk]. It happened at the WTO protests in Seattle. And you can bet your ass it's happening here.

    • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:35PM (#29551149)
      Having lived in Seattle, and known people who were in the WTO Seattle protests, I'd have to tell you that you are full of crap. The Seattle PD is one of the best in the country. Our former police chief is even more making marijuana legal. The groups that caused the trouble in the Seattle WTO protests were already very active. They weren't incited, they came with the intention of causing trouble. Normal people weren't incited, as you suggest, into literally destroying specific pre-targeted downtown businesses. It's actually somewhat insulting you'd suggest so.
      • by indiechild (541156) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @12:29AM (#29553429)

        Just because the police force is one of the best doesn't mean they don't deploy agent provocateurs.

        I'm pro-police most of the time. I fully support their actions in fighting crime in the community. But most police forces are way too heavy handed against peaceful protestors. If the protest is peaceful but politically charged, the higher-ups deem it necessary to break it up by any means necessary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dausha (546002)

      "The use of agents provocateurs is standard practice at these sort of events. You can't legally break up a peaceful riot, so you send men in, incite the crowd, and then break up the riot you started. It happened at the last G20 in london. It happened at the WTO protests in Seattle. And you can bet your ass it's happening here."

      There's a self-serving, conspiracy mindset. When the Conservatives and Libertarians were protesting during the town hall meetings, and holding their tea parties, there wasn't nearly t

  • by mnemotronic (586021) <mnemotronic@nets ... minus physicist> on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:18PM (#29551059) Homepage Journal
    Dude, like I've seen Spinal Tap [wikipedia.org] in concert like, about a million times. I use frikkin sonic cannons for earbuds.
  • by msimm (580077) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:25PM (#29551079) Homepage
    Why exactly do we need to import military devices to keep citizens from embarrassing government? If you can't handle the fact that some portion of the population disagrees with you or your policy you should leave office. Repressing our natural socio-political means of expression only forces the act underground, and that's where a once healthy form of expression can become dangerous.

    The importance of the rights of the people isn't just for the people, it also helps protect the stability and longevity of the government and other business/economic forces by providing a means for compromise, which is often better for all parties then forcing unilateral action. A government for and of the people simply makes healthier economic sense.

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