From Gizmodo, sketch of a "riot shield" now in the laboratory
The use of tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs, other weapons are now commonplace in efforts by America’s local police officers to dispatch those involved in Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. As protesters make use of constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly, they are confronted by increasingly potent varieties of “crowd control,” including forms of violence that cross the line between civilized law enforcement and practices of torture. Our newly militarized “riot” squads carry an impressive array of high tech instruments that city and campus cops now wield with little sense of restraint. The boys and their toys are ready for whatever expressions of freedom you have in mind.
Among the more insidious devices deployed or under development are ones that attack demonstrators with high intensity sound waves. These include the LRAD sound cannon used in police crackdowns against Occupy Oakland and in the political cleansing of Zuccotti park. According to a report in Gizmodo:
The LRAD corporation says that anyone within a 100 meters of the device's sound path will experience extreme pain. The version generally utilized by police department (the LRAD 500X) is designed to communicate at up to 2000 meters during ideal conditions. In a typical outdoor environment, the device can be heard for 650 meters. The 500x is also capable of short bursts of directed sound that casuse severe headaches in anyone within a 300-meter range. Anyone within 15 meters of the device's audio path can experience permanent hearing loss.
Evidently, the cannon is just the beginning of an ongoing process of "innovation" in this field of engineering and marketing. Google Patents contains a patent application for a dandy item, the "Man-Portable Non-Lethal Pressure Shield," submitted in December 2010 by James H. Bostick and now, according to Gizmodo, patented to Raytheon, Inc., The "non-lethal pressure shield creates a pulsed pressure wave that resonates the upper respiratory tract of a human, hindering breathing and eventually incapacitating the target."
I find it appalling that there is not widespread public outcry about the development and use of these technologies against citizens who are simply exercising their basic constitutional and human rights. The purpose of sound cannons and the new riot shields is to cause injury, perhaps permanent injury, to the ears and internal organs to persons who receive their blasts. Thus, the summary judgments of police result in what amounts to immediate, extreme physical punishment without arrest, presentation of evidence or judgment in a court of law. Injure now, ask questions later!
How is lawless conduct of this kind justified? Or have we reached a point at which questions of justification are beside the point? Having grown accustomed to the "enhanced interrogation" of those suspected of “terrorism,” the American populace may be ready for swift, mundane torture of their neighbors who are simply marching in the streets, holding signs, chanting slogans, and camping in Occupy parks.