Last night’s Casseroles march was, of course, a small group of about 20-30 idiots who felt it was permissible to block the Burrard Street Bridge last night. Somehow they thought that their ‘right to protest’ overruled the rights of 100’s of Vancouverites to travel unhindered through the city. These people really need to grow-up.
The Vancouver Police Department had 40 officers waiting- obviously they weren’t certain how big or small the protest would be. When the protesters began to block the bridge, the officers broadcast an announcement to the miscreants asking them to move, or that they would be arrested. The protesters all moved, and the confrontation was over.
Sounds good, right? Well, no, because the VPD made a major tactical error last night- one with very bad optics. Rather than use a simple bullhorn or public address device, the VPD brought and used their LRAD device to announce their intent to arrest.
The LRAD (Long Range Accustic Device) is a tool that can be either used as a public announcement system or as a weapon. In weapons mode it directionally can blast painful sound towards crowds of people. Now, the VPD have disabled the weapon feature of the LRAD back in November of 2009. So, what they are left with is a very expensive public announcement system that has extremely bad public relations optics attached to it.
The LRAD has become a major symbol of police oppression- disabling the device was a way for the VPD to reduce the amount of criticism they got for introducing it into their arsenal. Lauren Gill is already harping about the LRAD’s appearance, using it as a tool to build more discontent and recruit people for the next Casseroles. See how this backfired?
Here’s a video of the LRAD in-use:
I spoke to the VPD’s media spokesperson today who confirmed this was, indeed, the LRAD. Her explanation was “well. we paid for it, so we have to use it”. I informed her that that is a massive PR failure. and it would have been a better idea to use a standard bullhorn- optics are everything. She failed to tell me that the device had been disabled as a weapon- something the VPD should definitely make sure they share in the future.
In other news on the Casseroles Vancouver Cop Watch, of course, chimed-in with a snarky comment on the protest yesterday:
I’d like to reframe this statement for them. How about if a group of 20-30 miscreants had decided they wouldn’t need to be blocking bridges and burning bridges with the police, then those officers could have been working on something more important? Perhaps something like ticketing jaywalkers on Hastings Street…