New York City police officers have lately taken to blasting protesters with 21st-century sound cannons, and as far as anyone can tell, the department doesn’t have any policies governing when and how they get to do so.
Video taken on the night of December 4th during one of the marches protesting the failure to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner clearly shows police officers deploying one of its Long Range Acoustic Devices, or LRADs, against protesters near Columbus Circle. Today, lawyers representing some of those protesters have written to NYPD Commissioner Bratton, raising concerns with the NYPD’s use of the device.
“This is not a precision tool,” said Gideon Oliver, one of the lawyers who authored the letter. “This is an area-of-effect weapon. When the police use it, it’s not as if they’re just targeting one person. It’s indiscriminate like teargas.”
Oliver’s letter asks for any written policies the department has for the use of the LRAD, but he said it also serves to put the department on notice. “It’s about making sure the commissioner knows about the incident that happened to our clients,” he said. “Also, there are ongoing protests—there’s a big protest Saturday. We wanted to make sure the commissioner knows we’re watching how they’re using this device.”