Dozens of students with their mouths taped shut holding vigil on the stairs of the NYU student center. Hundreds of students lying prone in a "die-in" at the Columbia University holiday tree lighting. Thousands of people marching down streets, blocking highways, and crossing bridges to protest the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Akai Gurley and the lack of indictments for the officers responsible. Tens of thousands flowing down Broadway behind an eight-panel artwork depicting Garner's eyes.
Police in a number of U.S. cities aren’t just tasering and tear-gassing protesters, they’re attacking their sense of hearing. The Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), also called a “sound canon,” is a powerful, military-grade electronic megaphone that, in addition to broadcasting police commands, can be used to disperse crowds with a chirping noise reaching 162 decibels, 42 decibels above the level that can cause immediate and permanent hearing damage.
The New York City chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is crying foul at the use of these devices, sending a letter to the NYPD for more information about what kind of training officers get for using LRADs and what regulatory measures govern their usage. According to research by the group, while 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, the devices can hit up to 162 decibels, using a high pitched beeping sound that witnesses claim is unbearable.
Three NYC-NLG lawyers send a letter raising concerns over the use of Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRADs) against protestors by the NYPD.
“It’s going to be a long day for you guys – they’ve already started arresting people downtown,” the senior court officer told me on the morning of November 17. Two days after the raid on Zuccotti Park, the 17th was a day of mass demonstrations confronting the injustices of global capital at its symbolic center in the Financial District. A five-minute walk from Wall Street at the Manhattan Criminal Court, it was also arraignment day for 30 of more than 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge six weeks earlier.
Update (Friday August 17 10:25 AM PST): Protesting this morning's guilty verdict and sentencing, six people were arrested in a New York City march down Fifth Avenue. Two arrests were made at 10 a.m. EDT, and four more followed in the next 45 minutes, according to the National Lawyers Guild. More marches in Chicago and San Francisco are planned throughout the afternoon, but in the meantime, the scene in Times Square looks something like this.