Thanks for Publishing My Photo, in Records show D.C. Police used an LRAD sound cannon to “direct crowd flow” during the Women’s March

2017.01.21 Women's March Washington, DC USA 00094
2017.01.21 Women’s March Washington, DC USA 00094 (View on

Thanks for publishing my photograph, @MuckRock. And, my reaction is, “Oh dear.” Health is important in all pursuits, including peaceful dissent.

Records released last week show D.C. Metropolitan Police Department employed a Long Range Acoustic Device during the Women’s March to “direct the crowd flow.” This is the latest evidence of an worrying trend in which police departments are increasingly using the incredibly powerful LRAD to deal with non-violent protests at the risk of causing permanent hearing loss.Source: Records show D.C. Police used an LRAD sound cannon to “direct crowd flow” during the Women’s March


Holy crap. You didn’t paste in the specifics from the linked article, so I will.

All [models] can produce a sound somewhat akin to a high-powered car alarm that can cause intense headaches, nausea, loss of balance, and potentially permanent hearing loss.

The National Institutes of Health says that the risk of hearing loss can begin at as low as 85 dB. The higher the decibels, the higher the chances of permanent hearing damage – pain from sustained sound begins at 120 dB, and at 130 dB, permanent hearing loss is inevitable. Even low-powered models of LRAD’s can easily go up to 140 dB, with most police models capable of reaching at least 152 dB.

In a Motherboard piece written just after Ferguson, protesters describe the experience of being on the receiving end of this sound cannon. Photojournalist Anika Edrei told Motherboard reporter Alex Pasternack, “It was really loud – I could hear it through my fingers.” She continued,

“For the first week, I had a migraine, and just a lot of facial pressure,” she said. “Since the LRAD incident, I’ve been pretty freaked out about going back,” she added. “I’m worried about what damage it caused and it could cause if I went out there again.”
Said photojournalist Shay Horse,

“It feels like your eardrums are beating out of your head. It makes the side of your body that you’ve been hit on feel numb and that your sinuses are inflamed. I felt like I had blood coming out of my orifices. I heard the ringing for about a week.”

DCMPD refused all comment on the subject, so we do not know whether the department has their own LRAD (like the NYPD, which purchased one for roughly around $35,000), or whether it was borrowed from another agency, nor do we have any information on usage or training guidelines.

ALL models are capable of the level where permanent hearing loss is inevitable??

A part of me just thought, “Yikes. At least you have a shot of RECOVERING from a bullet.”

And they might have used this without training??


Yes, it sounds bad. The day was so calm considering how many people were there, so much kindness & compassion. It saddens me to think that they would be hurt by the people working to protect them.

Ted Eytan, MD