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Security forces prepare to confront anti-government protesters outside the parliament in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2007. The officer on the truck prepares to use a Long Range Acoustic Device, a crowd control device that emits penetrating bursts of sound. Protesters at the G20 summit in Toronto could face painful sound blasts. (GEORGE ABDALADZE/AP)
Security forces prepare to confront anti-government protesters outside the parliament in Tbilisi, Georgia, in 2007. The officer on the truck prepares to use a Long Range Acoustic Device, a crowd control device that emits penetrating bursts of sound. Protesters at the G20 summit in Toronto could face painful sound blasts. (GEORGE ABDALADZE/AP)

Rights group files for injunction against G20 'sound cannon' Add to ...

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has filed an injunction against the Toronto Police and Ontario Provincial Police in an effort to disarm the controversial "sound cannon" before this month's G20 summit.

The application for an injunction was filed with the Ontario Superior Court last Thursday, addressed to Toronto Chief William Blair and OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino.

A hearing is scheduled for June 23, just days before international leaders, delegations and protesters are expected to descend on Toronto for the G20 summit.

At issue is the Long-Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD, four of which have been obtained by the Toronto police in the lead up to the summit.

Described by police as a communications device, the machines can operate as a high-tech loud speaker. But the devices also have a "beaming" or "alert" function that emits a piercing blast of sound that can be used to disable and disperse crowds.

"The beaming function should not be used because it clearly is a weapon," said Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Ms. Des Rosiers said any new weapons adopted by the police must be approved by the Solicitor-General's office. The process would require the device to be studied for short- and long-term health impacts, she said.

"In our view, it should have been approved by the Solicitor-General's office before it was used, and it was not," she said.

A similar argument was made by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association before the Winter Olympics in B.C. this year, and Vancouver Police agreed to disable the function.

On Friday, Ms. Des Rosiers was part of a group that made submissions to the Toronto Police Services Board, asking them to reconsider using the device.

In addition to the potential health risks and issues of due process surrounding the LRAD, Ms. Des Rosiers said its purchase by police also "creates a chill on freedom of assembly."

"People might decide not to go to protest or participate on the basis that they may be exposed to a machine that hasn't been properly tested," she said.

Pressed on the issue last Friday, Chief Blair refused to commit to disabling the device.

Constable Wendy Drummond of the Integrated Security Unit said Monday police would not comment on the matter as it is before the courts.

"My understanding is that it hasn't restricted our use of it until a decision is made," she said.

Police are to provide affidavits by June 18 and a written cross-examination will occur on June 21 and 22 before the hearing on June 23.

In Pittsburgh last September, an LRAD was used against protesters during the G20 protests. It was the first time the device, developed by the U.S. military, had been used against civilian targets.

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