Protest as a National Security Threat
John Robb at his Global Guerrillas blog posts this CNN video on the use of an LRAD (long-range acoustic device) at the Pittsburgh G-20 Conference with this endorsement:
In general, governments worldwide are losing control over all of the classical forms of national power from borders to finances to communication to media to economic activity to security to trade flows (of all types). The upshot of this accelerating weakness is a tendency to view any and all forms of public protest as a security threat. To counter this perceived threat, an ever increasing number of countries have opted to
- militarize their police forces (from the 5 fold increase in US SWAT teams over the past decade to China's new million man paramilitary force),
- establish rules to neuter expression of dissent (i.e. establishment of "free speech zones" etc.),
- and the immediate/early application non-lethal weapons (sonic weapons, tasers, tear gas, etc.) to disperse crowds.
This effort will almost undoubtedly generate unintended consequences (we can already see protest groups learning to counter this by using flash mob mobility via cell phones).
Note also near the end of the CNN video that the anti-globalist protesters had real-time streaming video of the action being punched out to the world via the Internet, along with real-time planning info available to all via wireless Web service.
Just wait 'til the Protests of Spring '10.
Don't forget your hearing protection.
UPDATED 2345 EDST 27 SEPTEMBER 2009: Instapundit adds:
POLICE VIOLENCE AT THE G20: A law school classmate of mine, Curt Vaszquez, emails:
I just wanted to say that my daughter Martha, a 19 year old sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, on Thursday night was rousted by police from the school library where she was studying, ordered to leave her belongings behind and herded into the street where she was tear-gassed, sound cannoned and hit by a plexiglass shield for exercising her right to be a young person outdoors on her campus on a pleasant fall night. I suppose I should be grateful because other kids were roughed up much worse by the police that night. This is just one aspect of the G20 that will never receive the attention it deserves. You have no idea how bad it was here.
Also, you might be interested in the linked article in which Pitt’s police chief pats himselfs on the back for his handling of the situation and cynically refers to the victims as “innocents” who chose to put themselves in harm’s way. Note the Chief’s presumption that the police have the right to break up any assembly. Very disturbing.
I regard the G20 protests as idiotic, but that doesn’t excuse police overreaction. Violent protesters deserve to be arrested, but the reaction here does seem to have been excessive.
See also this other link from Insty.