Chicago police prepare for NATO Summit with riot gear and sound cannon
12 May, 2012
Tens of thousands of demonstrators will descend on Chicago, Illinois this month to protest the annual conference of NATO nations, and police are preparing with the help of one million dollars’ worth of weapons and riot gear.
Chicago’s law enforcement agencies have invested as much as $1 million on riot-control equipment, including at least one long-range acoustic device, or LRAD, and upgrades to shields that will be worn by the police, reports the UK’s guardian
Demonstrators and organizers alike have both described the plans for marches and rallies against the NATO Summit later this month as being peaceful in nature. Law enforcement wants to make sure that they keep the events non-violent, though, and will aim to do so with a major new arsenal of riot gear.
The LRAD, a sound cannon-like device that has been linked to causing permanent hearing loss, is being touted by the Chicago Police Department as a necessity for public safety.
“This is simply a risk management tool, as the public will receive clear information regarding public safety messages and any orders provided by police,” Chicago police spokeswoman Melissa Stratton tells the Guardian, adding that it will be available “as a means to ensure a consistent message is delivered to large crowds that can be heard over ambient noise.”
Police officers are believed to have used LRADs the last time that several world leaders attended a major conference on American soil. Employing the machine against protesters during the 2009 meeting of the Group of 20 leaders in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was believed by The New York Times to be the first instance the device was deployed on demonstrators in America. During that episode, police assaulted protesters by launching tear gas canisters and stun grenades into the crowd — but only after crippling them with the sound cannon, of course.