The Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, was designed to be used against America’s enemies on naval ships. It wasn’t supposed to be used in America against its own citizens. However, we have seen time and again that weapons designed for military use often come back to be used on the streets of America. LRAD is a particularly effective weapon because it damages an entire crowd’s hearing all at once.
The major problem with device such as LRAD is that they are being used for purposes for which they were not designed and they are affecting people who have nothing to do with the protests. An English professor is suing the Pittsburgh police, claiming that her hearing was damaged by the LRAD and she was not even part of the protest.
Karen L. Piper was trying to avoid a threatened tear gas salvo as police and protesters jockeyed on the streets of Lawrenceville during the G-20 Summit two years ago, when a piercing sound went right through her body.
She felt sudden nausea, a headache and fluid flowing from one ear. Her hearing, she said Wednesday, has never been the same.
“I have trouble distinguishing sounds,” she said. “I have high-frequency hearing loss that’s consistent with the LRAD sound.”
Ms. Piper wasn’t even part of the protest. She was behind police lines and she had complied with the police when they warned her they were going to start using tear gas and tried to leave the area, however, that’s when the LRAD was used and she was struck.
According to the lawsuit [PDF], Ms. Piper’s field of interest includes studying whether or not protesters have any impact on the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. She was writing a book about this issue when the protests occurred and, naturally, went outside to film what was happening. She had been with other journalists behind police lines when the LRAD was turned on.
Pittsburgh police have used the LRAD before in 2009 during the G20 summit. It was the first time LRAD was used in the United States against its own people.