One thousand protesters gathered outside the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Thursday. When they hurled bricks, police responded with a new, painful weapon: a Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) used in Iraq and against Somali pirates.

The LRAD (Long-Range Acoustic Device), also known as sonic weapon, was originally used to warn US navy vessels when enemy ships were approaching. It has become the latest non-lethal weapon used to control hostile crowds. Remaining near one of these machines when in use is extremely painful, and can inflict permanent hearing damage.

Police were already equipped with these machines in New York during the 2004 national Republican Convention, but they weren’t used at the time. The Pittsburgh G20 summit was therefore the first time US forces used the sonic weapon against fellow citizens. One LRAD even resonated during a live CNN report.

Unknown location. Posted on Youtube by Booku4

On Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh. Posted on Youtube by ndromb.

“It worked well to scatter small groups, but not an entire protest”

Brian is an activist from the Twin Cities Independent Media Centre. He was in Pittsburgh for the protests.

I got close to the LRAD on Thursday. You could hear it from miles away. The sound became almost unbearable when you were several feet away. People started saying that if you shouted as loud as you could it numbed the pain, so before long lots of protesters were screaming their heads off. I used another technique: I stood behind the machine, near the police. Since the sound is directed towards the front, the pain became bearable.

I thought the sonic weapon worked well to scatter crowds on a small perimeter, but not an entire protest. That being said, they can still raise the volume a notch..."