RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Chicago Police plan to use long range acoustic devices, or sound cannons to control crowds for the upcoming NATO summit. The LRAD emits sounds that are painful and can damage the human ear.

Protesters in Pittsburgh run from a long range acoustic device aimed at them. (photo: Toronto Star)
Protesters in Pittsburgh run from a long range acoustic device aimed at them. (photo: Toronto Star)

Long Range Acoustic Device to Be Deployed in Chicago NATO Protests

By Paul Meincke, ABC7 Chicago

13 April 12


hicago Police are taking lessons learned in Pittsburgh to help control crowds for the upcoming NATO summit.

Police plan to use what's called a long-range acoustic device to keep crowds from getting out of hand. ABC 7's Paul Meincke learned more about the device and what worked and didn't work in Pittsburgh.

The G20 Summit in Pittsburgh in September of 2009 has been called the most peaceful of modern day global summits. There are doubtless many reasons why arrests and property damage were minor compared to other host cities. Police say their intelligence paid dividends. Some protestors say the city purposely dragged out the permitting process for marches making it tougher to organize. And there is also Pittsburgh's layout: a compact downtown that come summit time was filled with riot-control police.

There was indeed a lot of security. Pittsburgh has a police force of around 900 men and women, so for summit duty they recruited officers from other law enforcement agencies, including Chicago.

There were protest marches -- some with permits, some without. The largest was a march across a downtown bridge within sight and sound of the G20 meeting. The overriding message from the thousands involved was spend less on war and more on human needs.

There were no clashes, no arrests in that march, but there were other confrontations.

Pittsburgh used what's called a long-range acoustic device for loudspeaker dispersal orders, followed up by high-frequency, potentially painful audio chirps.

Pittsburgh's use of the LRAD was the first time that machine has been used in the U.S. for crowd control.

"I'm not gonna talk much about the LRAD because we are in litigation over it, but we did use it as a tool to get the message out," said Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss.

There are still unresolved lawsuits over Pittsburgh's use of the LRAD and other arrests that protesters say took place without provocation. But the total number of arrests was less than 200, a mere fraction of what other G-summit cities have seen. And property damage was minimal.

From a policing standpoint, Pittsburgh has a couple things that work in its favor. It has hills and it has rivers.

Bridges near the convention center were closed. The immediate security perimeter and beyond were well fortified. The Strip District, just outside downtown, was the announced target of some demonstrators, but they never got close because the river is on one side and a wall of police was in the streets.

"One of the residents said it looked like Keystone Cops just preventing the people from coming. They kept shifting as needed," said Becky Rodgers, director of Neighbors in the Strip.

"I have to commend the police department in Pittsburgh that they did do a good job keeping us protected. We had no damage," said merchant Joe Hermanowski.

Chicago has done what every host city has done, which is to look at those cities that have previously held global summits and find best practices. But every city has its own unique challenges.

Chicago Police say they do have an LRAD available for use. It sends out live or recorded messages in a narrow sound beam. So you can hear the messages with clarity several hundred yards away. Police say that is how they intend to use it -- as a communications tool. But it is also equipped to emit those high-frequency alarm tones.

See Also: Bystander Sues City of Pittsburgh Over Pain and Hearing Loss Caused by Use of Long Range Acoustic Device at G-20 Protest

See Also: How the Sound Gun Feels

See Also: How the LRAD Sounds your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+14 # cadan 2012-04-13 09:30
Naturally of course the city of Chicago would be well advised to boot out NATO instead of booting out people assembling for redress of grievances.
+15 # John Locke 2012-04-13 10:55
Welcome to AMERIKA...
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,..."

We have become the land of the homeless! the lost and the oppressed!
+12 # Adoregon 2012-04-13 11:48
Ain't dat da sh*t...

Repeat after me:
We're free!
We're free!
We're free!!

Uh huh... the basic message from YOUR government is, "STFU and go home or we'll deafen you [serfs].
+17 # frankdavid 2012-04-13 09:53
"I'm not gonna talk much about the LRAD because we are in litigation over it, but we did use it as a tool to get the message out," said Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss.

The message being there is no free speech in america any more. The new military police are seeing to that.
+19 # Capn Canard 2012-04-13 10:36
Well, so now America has to use physical, brute force to show how peaceful America is... Apparently we are the model for dictatorial fascist power.
+7 # John Locke 2012-04-13 11:08
Hummm, I think Obama is still president, and If I recall he has been the one to militarize the police! But lets ignore this, we need him to be president for another 4 more years, so he can destroy the remainder of the Bill of rights and the constitution! Lets all put on those rose colored glasses and ignore his record of abuses...
+10 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-04-13 11:37
Come on! He has a Nobel peace prize, doesn't he?
Like, er, Kissinger...
+6 # John Locke 2012-04-13 12:03
Wasn't Hitler Time magazine man of the year in 1938?
+6 # DaveM 2012-04-13 10:59
The time has arrived when we will have to fight back merely to protect our First Amendment Rights. There must be a way to disable an LRAD device--someone knows how. Find this out and distribute the knowledge. Putting these things out of commission would not depart from non-violence against people and would remove a direct threat which is being deployed against law-abiding people.
+5 # oldleftie 2012-04-13 11:39
earplugs. effective. end of story
0 # RLF 2012-04-15 06:28
There are a lot of highly trained snipers home from the nonsensical wars...maybe they could put a bullet trough the machine.
+7 # Bodiotoo 2012-04-13 11:09
If this is used I do hope there is a massive class action suit against the authorties for using weapons that hurt the citizens intentionally.
+11 # oldleftie 2012-04-13 11:37
Ummm... can we all just chill out for a minute before running around like a Chicken Little???

The LRAD sound wave can be cancelled altogether through the use of common earplugs. The better the earplugs are at blocking sound waves, the less effective the LRAD is.
Sounds emitted from the LRAD can be reflected back to the source by using a flat solid object.

If I had the time, I'd just go out to Chitown and set up a streetside booth with bottled water and earplugs for sale. Betcha someone reading this does just that. As for "flat, solid object", how about a nice sign that says "Can you hear me NOW??????"
+7 # seeuingoa 2012-04-13 11:41
What about ear-goggles/LRA D (shooting range)
and eye-goggles/pep per spray (scuba diving)
+5 # cordleycoit 2012-04-13 13:28
Imagine the Chicago Political structure not using it's new toy on the people. Who is the finest product of that political machine, Obama.Who will benefit from it's use Rom and Obama(remember the Chicago Cops represent a right wing Democratic Machine that delivers to the upper middle class.)"Brave New World".

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.