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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: East Bay | Police State and Prisons
Oakland Leaders Should Keep Sound Cannons on Ice
This is not new information, but important to remember as another raid on #OccupyOakland is increasingly likely.
As some of you may remember, in 2010 the City of Oakland and County of Alameda purchased “long range acoustic devices,” or LRADs, for use in crowd control. Given the events of yesterday evening—when many of us were hit with teargas containers, pellet-filled beanbags, concussion grenades and the like—it is worth emphasizing that the Oakland Police Department has other “toys” that should never be put in use.
To put it simply: the LRAD is a very dangerous device that can cause permanent hearing loss. The devices are banned in Canada – the Canadian Civil Liberties Union obtained an injunction against LRAD deployment in Toronto, Canada, after police threatened its use during the 2010 G-20 Summit.
As the CCLU stated in its petition to obtain an injunction:
"Long Range Acoustic Devices are largely untested, "sub-lethal" devices capable of causing extreme pain and permanent hearing loss. Due to their weapon-like qualities, they are commonly referred to as "sonic cannons." Originally developed for use on the high seas, and subsequently used in war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan, sonic cannons recently have been deployed in urban settings to disperse crowds and force compliance through pain and discomfort."
Alameda County procured its LRAD 300X in 2010. The 300X, according to its manufacturers, produces up to 143 decibels of sound – plenty sufficient to destroy the hearing of any protestor. When the CCLU obtained its injunction against LRAD use, it presented numerous expert witnesses, including an audiologist who testified that:
"Exposure to very intense noise [such as that generated by an LRAD] can cause damage to the cochlea of the inner ear which may not show up until years later. Disruption to the delicate mechanics of the inner ear can sometimes improve within a few hours or days, but most often there is not a complete recovery and there is permanent hearing loss. On the other hand, where the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged by very loud sounds it invariably results in permanent hearing loss. . . . ."
Humans are born with only one set of these hair cells. These hair cells if damaged do not recover or regenerate.
OPD should not use such a dangerous and little-understood device on Oakland civilians. This device appears unfit for any use at all, much less against local residents exercising their First Amendment rights of expression and association.
The People of Oakland should remind our City Council members and Mayor of the dangers of this device, and demand that OPD never utilize the LRAD.
* * *
2010 LRAD Procurement Contract: http://www.scribd.com/doc/70393825/Alameda-County-LRAD-Procurement
CCLU Brief in Support of Injunction Against LRAD Use: http://www.scribd.com/doc/70394003/Canadian-Civil-Liberties-Union-brief-on-LRAD