Tested on Palestinians, Perfected on #OWS Protesters: Introducing the LRAD Sound Cannon
Yesterday, the New York Police Department deployed a strange new weapon against the tens of thousands of demonstrators who converged downtown for the largest protest in Occupy Wall Street’s two month history: the LRAD sound cannon. NYPD officers reportedly blasted Occupy protesters with rays from the LRAD cannon while they sang the American national anthem near Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park (photos here), establishing an atmosphere of fear and intimidation that lasted throughout the evening.
Designed and manufactured by the San Diego-based LRAD Corporation, which was formerly known as the American Technology Corporation, the Long Range Acoustic Device sound weapon is the latest innovation in crowd suppression technology. It is portable and powerful, capable of transmitting a focused ray of 140 decibels of sound at a crowd of people, generating painful cranial vibrations so profound ear plugs become useless. According to LRAD promotional material, the sonic weapon “provides military personnel with a powerful, penetrating warning tone that can be followed by clear voice broadcasts in host nation languages to warn and shape the behavior of potential threats.”
In June, LRAD sold $293,000 worth of its 100X and 500X sound canon systems to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The contract was part of Israeli Army Commander Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi’s investment in $35 million in suppression systems in anticipation of widespread unrest in the occupied West Bank that would supposedly be prompted by the Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid at the United Nations.
The Israeli Army has refined the use of LRAD systems on the civilian population of Palestinian villages engaged in the unarmed popular struggle against Israel’s illegal military occupation. Demonstrators in the village of Beit Ummar have been repeatedly assaulted by Israeli forces armed with LRAD systems, including on October 7, when the Israeli army used the LRAD to attack unarmed demonstrators protesting against the abuse and isolation of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.
I first visited the Beit Ummar area in the spring of 2009, joining a group of international and Israeli activists as they protected the village’s farmers from fanatical Jewish settlers from the colony of Bat Ayn, who had repeatedly assaulted them as they attempted to work their fields. As soon as I arrived I witnessed a group of Jewish children from Bat Ayn charge down a hill while chanting, “Death to Arabs!” at the farmers.
In January 2011, settlers shot a Beit Ummar resident, 17-year-old Yousef Fakhri Ikhlayl in the head, leaving him brain dead. The settlers could not carry out their deadly violence without the protection of the Israeli Army, which invariably defends them while crushing unarmed protests in Beit Ummar with disproportionate force.
Beit Ummar has carried on its unarmed popular resistance struggle against impossible odds. The village has been severed in half by a settler bypass road, Highway 60, which occupied Palestinians are forbidden from traveling on. Numerous graves in the village cemetery were desecrated in order to build the Israelis-only highway. Not only are village residents surrounded by army pillboxes and preyed on by extremist settlers, they have been transformed into experimental gerbils in the global pacification industry’s laboratory of doom.
Having been tested on a defenseless, occupied population in Palestine, the LRAD made its grand debut in New York City yesterday, where local police forces targeted American citizens peacefully protesting against economic exploitation. The peculiar weapon system symbolizes the creeping Israelification of America’s local police forces and the Palestinianization of all who challenge the predations of a zero tolerant 1 percent master class.
As the blogger Ayesha Kazmi recently wrote to Occupy movement participants, “So welcome to the War on Terror. Your first lesson, if your views happen to counter the established narrative, expect to be dehumanised, then treated like a terrorist.”