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Judge Green-lights Sonic cannons

New weapon to make debut in Canada, with some constraints

by Martin Lukacs


 


They've been used to incapacitate Somali pirates on the high seas, cleanse areas of civilians and insurgents in occupied Afghanistan and Iraq, and fend off anti-whaling environmentalists. Now, sonic cannons will be coming to Canada, after a provincial judge green-lighted their use for the G20's weekend summit in Toronto.
 
Their introduction into the Ontario and Toronto police's arsenal will raise fears about the potential normalization of a weapon intended to deter and limit public protest.
 
On friday morning Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown ruled Toronto Police could use the sound cannon or long range acoustic device (LRAD) so long as they conform to the protocol of the Ontario provincial police, meaning they will have to use the sound cannons from a distance of 75 instead of 22 metres, and use the ear-piercing “alert” function for two to four second bursts every 30 seconds.
 
The cannons have two distinct functions: a "communications" setting that blasts loud, pre-recorded messages telling crowds to disperse, and an "alert" function that directs a high-pitched piercing sound at a target.
 
Mainstream media, including the Globe & Mail, have inaccurately reported that the judge has prohibited the use of the "alert" function.
 
"It’ll just be a couple of little adjustments that we're satisfied we can make," said J. McGuire, Staff Superintendent with the Toronto Police, who promised to abide by the judge's ruling.
 
The ruling ensures that if Toronto or Ontario police violate their protocols, they could be found in contempt of court and criminally liable.
 
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) had filed an application for an injunction with the Ontario Superior Court in early June in an attempt to ground the sonic cannons,  which experts say can cause permanent hearing damage.
 
"Before we took court action, we were unable to even get information on the governing operating policies and procedures for these devices,"  said Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel of the CCLA. Since the CCLA filed their application, police forces have disclosed their policies and revised them three times in the past week alone, though Rosiers believes they remain inadequate.
 
"Our position is that this is not the end of the road today," she said. "The court has recognized that it is a serious issue whether these are weapons or not, and if they are recognized as weapons, then they need to be regulated and maybe forbidden."
 
Military defence publications regularly refer to the cannons as "acoustic non-lethal weapons."
 
The case will proceed to trial in the fall, when the judge will rule whether sound cannons are weapons. They could then come under a provincial regulatory framework that might include independent testing, conditions of deployment, and Ministerial oversight. The trial will also determine if the use of sound cannons violates Charter rights by deterring individuals from attending public demonstrations.
 
"We cannot have the police deciding for themselves what new technologies they will be using on citizens," Des Rosiers said.
 
The sonic cannons have not been subject to independent scientific testing, have never been used before by a Canadian police force, and were expressly not used during the Vancouver Olympics. The OPP and Toronto police decision to deploy them flies in the face of an RCMP internal review that ruled against it use. According to the report, the  "the potential risks associated with their use currently outweigh the benefits."
 
The OPP only performed its first tests on the sonic cannons, in an airstrip in Huntsville, after the CCLA filed its application. Neither police force have carried out studies about potential hearing damages caused by a sonic cannon in an urban setting. 
 
In ruling that the Toronto police would be required to modify their protocol, Judge Brown acknowledged that a "very real likelihood exists that demonstrators may suffer damage to their hearing from the proposed use of the Alert function at certain distances and volumes."
 
Toronto police have purchased three LRADs that can reach 135-decibel range, and one that can emit 143 decibels. The U.S. National Institute on Deafness has stated that sustained noise above 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage.
 
In Pittsburgh, police training similarly mandated that the "alert" function be used for no more than two to four seconds, but they were in fact operated for several minutes at a time.
 
Protestors from friday's demonstrations have already recounted having their earplugs confiscated by police. Earplugs have been distributed in bulk by the Council of Canadians in preparation for the weekend.
 

 


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Comments

LRAD DEvices

Last October 2009  the LRAD device was used against ousted Honduran President Zelaya while holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, the same day the LRAD device was used for the first time against US citizens in Pittsburgh during the G20.  Then of course the Vancouver police were able to pick up a few during the Olympic cash give away. Perfect opportunity to militarize our provincial police departments and continue the soft subtle criminalization of dissent.

Wake up Canada after Tegucigalpa, Pittsburgh and Vancouver (purchased but not used) this should not come as a shock.

 

See Al Giordano's article Sept. 2009 concerning the LRAD device

Honduran Coup Regime Mocks UN Security Council with Embassy Attacks

Posted by Al Giordano - September 25, 2009 

The instrument is an offensive weapon, used on US Navy warships and by other nations, which can emit sounds that, “Through the use of powerful voice commands and deterrent tones, large safety zones can be created while determining the intent and influencing the behavior of an intruder.”

The LRAD-X machine can shoot sounds of up to 151 decibels. According to the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communications Disorders sounds less loud than those it produces can cause Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL): “Sources of noise that can cause NIHL include motorcycles, firecrackers, and small firearms, all emitting sounds from 120 to 150 decibels. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the time period before NIHL can occur.”  

And keep in mind folks that beautiful fence in Toronto to protect the city is the creation of one of the most evil scary buddies to the military industrial complex -SNC-Lavalin! they made a lot of bullets in the past few years--- Make some nice art on that fence

good luck and fight the good fight get the info out! 

Pepe

 

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