Canada unveils arsenal for anti-G20 protests

Thu Jun 3, 2010 5:34pm EDT
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By Pav Jordan

TORONTO, Ontario (Reuters) - Canada on Thursday unveiled the arsenal it will use against protesters who get out of hand at two global summits later this month, promising riot police armed with guns, shields, Tasers and super-high-volume loudspeakers.

Toronto police said their new Long Range Acoustic Device would help them communicate with roaring protesters from as far as 250 meters (820 feet) away. When turned to full volume, the devices can emit enough sound to damage eardrums.

"This is not a weapon," said Constable Wendy Drummond, a spokeswoman for the Integrated Security Unit that will provide security for the two summits. "It is a communications tool. It may or may not even be used."

Security forces have bought four of the portable loudspeakers, also known as a sonic guns because the volume can be turned up to such levels they can be used as weapons.

The devices look harmless enough, like a large, home stereo speaker that can be strapped to an officer's chest. Protest groups say they should not be allowed because the sound can be turned to as loud as 146 decibels, or the equivalent of a firecracker exploding by your ear.

Canada faces a billion-dollar bill for security at the summit of the Group of Eight industrialized countries and the summit of the Group of 20 rich and developing nations. The events take place at the end of the month in Toronto and in Huntsville, Ontario, a resort town two hours to the north.

The agendas will focus on the financial crises that has torn across the globe. As in past summits, the meetings are becoming magnets for environmental and anti-poverty campaigners who see it as a perfect forum for protest.

"We have had a large number of them (protesters) that have communicated with us and talked to us about what their plans are," Drummond said after a police demonstration of ways they plan to keep the peace at the Toronto summit.   Continued...

<p>Members of the Toronto Police Mounted Unit which will provide security during the upcoming G8 and G20 Summits in Ontario are shown during a Integrated Security Unit (ISU) technical briefing for media in Toronto June 3, 2010. REUTERS/ Mike Cassese</p>