No longer the stuff of disturbing futuristic fantasies, an arsenal of "crowd control munitions," including one that reportedly made its debut in the US, was deployed with a massive, overpowering police presence in Pittsburgh during last week's G-20 protests.
Nearly 200 arrests were made and civil liberties groups charged the many thousands of police (transported on Port Authority buses displaying "PITTSBURGH WELCOMES THE WORLD"), from as far away as Arizona and Florida with overreacting ... and they had plenty of weaponry with which to do it.
Bean bags fired from shotguns, CS (tear) gas, OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) spray, flash-bang grenades, batons and, according to local news reports, for the first time on the streets of America, the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD).
I saw the LRAD, mounted in the turret of an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC), in action twice in the area of 25th, Penn and Liberty Streets of Lawrenceville, an old Pittsburgh neighborhood. Blasting a shrill, piercing noise like a high-pitched police siren on steroids, it quickly swept streets and sidewalks of pedestrians, merchants and journalists, and drove residents into their homes, but in neither case were any demonstrators present. The APC, oversized and sinister for a city street, together with lines of police in full riot gear looking like darkly threatening Michelin Men, made for a scene out of a movie you didn't want to be in.