Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pittsburgh police turn United States' evil sonic cannons on... American protestors

So much for free speech. From The Guardian, last Friday:
Only a few hundreds protesters took to the streets of Pittsburgh to mark the opening day of the G20 summit of world leaders, but the police were taking no chances.

Sonic weapons or long-range acoustic devices have been used by the US military overseas, notably against Somali pirates and Iraqi insurgents.

But US security forces turned the piercing sound on their own citizens yesterday to widespread outrage. Pittsburgh officials told the New York Times that it was the first time "sound cannon" had been used publicly.
The Guardian also notes, "It is feared the sounds emitted are loud enough to damage eardrums and even cause fatal aneurysms."

Forgive the Hollywood reference, but for those who don't understand what this type of weapon is, think of that scene in the first Iron Man movie when the antagonist, Obadiah Stane, paralyzes the protagonist, his boss Tony Stark, with an acoustic device developed by Stark Industries so that he can remove the "arc reactor" (which keeps Stark alive and also powers his suit) from Stark's chest.

That's roughly analogous what happened in Pittsburgh. The United States military used a dangerous, sophisticated weapon that was researched and developed using our common wealth and turned that weapon on its own bosses... the American people! Granted, we weren't all exposed to the sonic cannon, but some of us were, and that is simply unfathomable. Outrageous doesn't do justice to this banal and wholly unjustified act of brutality.

See for yourself. Not the same as being there, of course, but you imagine what it's like to be in the vicinity of these sonic blasts.

My favorite part is where the police loudspeaker sounds out the warning, I hereby declare this an unlawful assembly.

Somebody should have shouted back (and perhaps they did) We hereby declare your warning unconstitutional.

The Constitution of the United States does not give any police authority in the United States the ability to declare protests "unlawful" simply because they don't want them to occur, or occur in some particular location.

The First Amendment is pretty clear on this subject. It says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Congress shall make no law...

But hey, when a bunch of world leaders are in town, who cares what the Constitution says? It's only a piece of paper, right?

President Obama, for his part, was not concerned about how protesters were being treated. He actually used the words "very tranquil" to describe the summit, when asked at the end what his response was to protesters outside.

Sorry, Mr. President, but that's about the most ridiculous and untrue thing you've ever said, and to us it's as appalling as the Orwellian platitudes frequently offered by George W. Bush. You obviously never bothered to take a look at what was going on outside on the streets of Pittsburgh. Or you would have noticed the tear gas and sonic cannons. I'll quote, from the police loudspeakers in the video:
I hereby declare this to be an unlawful assembly...I order all those assembled to immediately disperse...No matter, what your purpose is, you must leave... Other police action may include actual physical removal, the use of riot control agents, and or less lethal munitions, which could cause risk of injury to those who remain...
Yeah, that's tranquil, all right... in Opposite World!


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