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News :: Human Rights : Technology
Less-Than-Lethal?
23 Oct 2004
PepperBall guns, Bean Bag Projectiles and Tasers, seem to be a good idea at first. They have been used to take down knife wielding hostage holders and neutralize would be suicide victims all over the country. They give officers a chance to leave their guns in the holster and defuse dangerous situations without killing.

In these situations the risk to life and limb is very real and there is a compelling logic to their use, even a fairly good record to back it up. A certain number of violent criminals have died as a result of bean-bags, pepper spray, and Tasers, but without less than lethal weapons, a gun would be used, and a death would be more likely.

But according to studies of some police departments, more than half of the people who end up on the business end of non-lethal weapons are not criminals, and over 80% are not threatening officers or the public with weapons of their own. That was definitely the case Thursday when a Boston Police Officer fired a FN Herstall model 303 pepper ball gun into a crowd of celebrating Red Sox fans, killing 21 year old Victoria Snelgrove. The Boston Globe reported only that a bottle was smashed near the police, who were wearing full riot gear at the time.

The police are trained to maintain a code of conduct regardless of the conduct of others. One would expect an officer of the law to exercise restraint when wielding a weapon capable of deadly force. Yet, in the case of "less-than lethal" weapons, such a policy simply isn't there.
fn_ll_303_r.gif
The pepper ball gun, originally developed by a company called PepperBall Technologies, is perhaps the least lethal weapon of a growing class of law enforcement weaponry called less than lethal weapons. But less than lethal is a false label. Practically all less than lethal weapons have proven their capability to be lethal. Yet police departments across the country continue to use them indiscriminately as a method of crowd control and "compliance", instead of limiting their use to people who are in the act of a crime.

In light of this, a study done by the Omega Foundation for the European Parliament in 2000 recommended: "Any crowd control weapon capable of producing a lethal impact should be subject to the same legal procedures and post incident inquiry as if it were a lethal firearm." This would mean that the police would have policies that would limit the use of these weapons to situations where the risk of lethal force would be worth taking, and if that policy was not followed, the police officer who fires at innocent people would be prosecuted.

The Boston Globe recently reported that, "No accurate statistics exist for any injuries from pepper-filled balls or other types of nonlethal weapons." This may be true, but the statement is misleading. This might lead one to believe that people do not die from less than lethal weapons, or that deaths have not been recorded, or that no organization has studied the problem. But deaths have been recorded and those records have been gathered for study. Searching the archives of US newspapers will produce a number of stories about people dying from pepper spray, tasers, and bean-bag projectiles (although this may be the first incident of a pepperball related death). The Omega Foundation and the Centre for Conflict Resolution at the University at Bradford in the UK have both released studies that highlight the dangers and deaths associated with all less than lethal weapons. These studies have emphasized the dangers associated with these weapons and made recommendations for their safe use that have so far been ignored by the US media and US law enforcement.

Here is a brief overview of three weapons that are classed "Less-than-lethal."



PEPPERBALL GUNS combine the use of projectiles with a synthetic chemical agent called PAVA powder (Pelargonic Acid Vanillyamide), OC (Oleanized Capiscium), or Capsaicin II, all versions of pepper spray. Both the kinetic force and the spray have the potential to become lethal. PepperBall technologies website recommends the use of a full face mask, throat collar, and groin protection for police training with the weapons "to prevent injury." When inhaled, PAVA powder causes acute burning of the eyes, temporary blinding, and severe inflammation the mucous membranes and upper respiratory system that in turn leads to uncontrollable coughing fits. The Los Angeles Times reported 61 deaths associated with pepper spray from 1990 to June 1995 (June 18,1995).

TASERS shoot small darts and deliver electroshock up to 50,000 volts (in the commonly used M26). Massachusetts was one of the two last states to legalize Tasers for police until Romney signed a bill allowing police departments to purchase them in July for the DNC. Tasers have been the cause of many deaths in the US and Canada. Older folks, drug users, and those with heart problems are at the greatest risk. They have also been proven to cause miscarriages in pregnant women. Their use is among the most widespread of the less than lethals- AP reported the use of a Taser on a 66 year old Kansas City grandmother for "misuse of a carhorn," and resisting arrest (August 21, 2004).

BEAN BAG PROJECTILES are one of the many new items police can load into their riot control shotguns. So far there is very little data on their use. However, the National Research Council released a report in 2003 that asserts that the impact of blunt projectiles to the head, neck and chest can result in very serious injury or death. Police are trained to aim for the arms and legs, yet all of these weapons are known to be inaccurate. On June 22, 2001 a 49 year old Long Beach woman was killed when she was struck in the chest by a beanbag round. It lacerated her heart. She was carrying a gun herself but it is only a matter of time when these weapons are being used for crowd control.

OTHER LESS THAN LETHAL WEAPONS are being used and newer products are coming on to the market all the time. When these weapons are used for crowd control, and as the technology improves, their effect becomes more political and less safety oriented. A line needs to be drawn between their use against criminals and their indiscriminant use against crowds.

[Correction: The gun that was used to kill Victoria Snelgrove was in fact a FN Herstall model 303 and not a gun manufactured by Pepperball Technologies.]
See also:
http://www.europarl.eu.int/stoa/publi/pdf/99-14-01-a_en.pdf
http://www.bradford.ac.uk/acad/nlw/introduction/

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
23 Oct 2004
Atmospheric engineering is real, and well documented. It is used for many things, not least of which is deployment of mind altering calmatives in the classified NL arsenal, and debilitating energy technology, also within the NL realm. ENMOD, TIME DOMAIN TECHNOLOGY (TIA-3d through wall viewing--remote harddrive access--eavesdropping EXTRAORDINAIRE). These mechanical NL's you speak of are VERY old news. See www.luxefaire.com/electro.html, and visit http://www.sunshine-project.org/
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
23 Oct 2004
Yeah sure, they are old news. But I'm trying to speak about bad policy here really, not just a technology review, or a look at all the scary things the government are coming up with.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
23 Oct 2004
A bunch of propaganda from the Air Force http://www.au.af.mil/au/aul/bibs/soft/nonlethal.htm
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
23 Oct 2004
Not that I don't mind a little mind altering calmative in my weather, but the fact that these are old news is not the issue. The issue is whether the use of such weapons in killing local citizens is current events, and it is.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
24 Oct 2004
as cheesy as it may sound

i am certain that our society is spiralling into some kind of science fictionesque dystopian nightmare.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
24 Oct 2004
Less than lethal projectiles including pepper balls can be fatal if they strike a person's head. There are warnings to this effect on the packaging for such munitions. They were not intended to be used to hit people in the head, neck, chest or spinal region.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
24 Oct 2004
I HEARD THERE WAS A PETITION TO HAVE "LESS THAN LETHAL" WEAPONS BANNED IN BOSTON. IS THERE A LINK TO THIS PETITION INFO ONLINE?
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
25 Oct 2004
You think this is somethin? Wait for the electromagnetic pulse weapons.

BAN LTLS

PEOPLE'S MILITIAS NOT PIGS
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
25 Oct 2004
There is a petition to ban less than lethal weapons or have them treated as lethal weapons to limit their use (as discussed in the article above and the link to the omega foundation study for the european parliament). There will be a link to an online version of the petition shortly and it will be posted here in the comments and possibly other places on our site.

If folks are interested in getting more signatures for this out on the street you can leave a message at 617-338-0184 and we will connect you to the group that is forming to address this issue.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
25 Oct 2004
In order to assist you in the "accurate" tellings of the truth, you should know that the weapons used by police that night were manufactured by a comany known as FN Herstal. The Boston Police have said they will no longer use those weapons, but others considered safer made by PepperBall Technologies. You may want to debate whether or not these less-than-lethal weapons are appropriate at all, but do make sure you have your facts straight first. The information I am sharing has been widely reported over the past few days in Boston print media.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
26 Oct 2004
During the 2003 FTAA protests in Miami there were several severe examples of what these "less than lethal" weapons can do. Many of these examples can be seen on the IndyMedia video "The Miami Model", available online at: http://ftaaimc.org/miamimodel

In one example, an independent journalist from a local Miami news source was covering the event and was shot in the side of the head. He is now permanently paralized on that side of his face and may never be able to talk normally again.

In another graphic example, a protester was shot in the ear and suffered severe damage to the side of the head. She image of her bloody face, and her confused cried, and her disorientation after it happened when beanbags and other projectiles were still being fired in her direction are terrifying.

In yet another example, a local lawyer was shot repeatedly by a police line for absolutely no reason and with no warning. Activists had to come to her rescue with "shields" to pull her to safety. The police opened fire on her when her back was turned to their line.

These weapons were originally called "non-lethal" weapons, but were reclassified as "less than lethal" when the number of people mortally wounded became public knowledge. The most common occurance of human injury and death happen when police and military forces who are not properly trained in their use discharge them in dangerous situations.

The Boston Police Department may claim that their experience during the Democratic National Convention has helped in their ability to use these weapons in "riot" situations, there were no "riots" during the DNC for them to have gained experience. Furthermore, these types of weapons are not like a pistol or a shotgun. They are grossly inaccurate and unreliable for targeting. While a regular police force has a firing range where officers are encouraged or required to regularly practice using their weapons, these socalled "less than lethal" weapons are a different story.

We're lucky that more people weren't hurt during the policing after the game last Saturday. We'll be lucky if more aren't hurt in the future if our police force insist on using "less than lethal" weapons in simple crowd control situations.
Less-Than-honorable!
26 Oct 2004
ultlra violent ultra vicious Boston Police "Boston's finest" LOL finest criminals gloat over the bloody body of a beautiful young woman after brutaly slaying her.

All the news media can do is compliment "Boston's finest" on professional conduct and extra ordinary restraint. At the same time they depict a largely peacefull gathering of sports fans as the Los Angeles riots, made up purely of evil college students.

The Boston Police have a storied history of extreme violence and brutality against anyone with billy clubs reach. The law suits settled out of court would fill volumes. Yet everyone including the "brave" media are afraid to take on these thugs in blue uniforms. The Boston PD and patrolman's union are an organized crime family.

And young women are shot down in the streets of Boston to satisfy the blood lust of these vicious men.
Only some fear criminals All fear COPS
26 Oct 2004
Two choices the Boston Police with all their very expensive profesional training are horrible shots and fire randomly into peacefull crowds or they are excellent shots and first degree murderers that are above the law.

Maybe officer murderer was tired and distracted from all his double billing on police payoffs ooops I mean police detail work.

Even the most demented criminals in Boston would not have fired a weapon randomly or targeted into a peacefull crowd, nope it takes a COP to do that.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
26 Oct 2004
"you'll shoot your eye out kid"
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
26 Oct 2004
OK, set your phasers too slaughter
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
26 Oct 2004
Thanks for pointing that out Jon- little mistake there. Early reports mentioned a "pepper ball gun" and I related that to the PepperBall company- in error.
Camera Women & Men WANTED.
26 Oct 2004
Video camera operators are urged to strategically place themselves in areas where celebration and police violence are likely. Preferably on a second floor balcony out of baton range with protective eye wear. Dress in subdued colors and use a night vision option if your camera is equipped with it. A bright spotlight will only cause the thugs in blue to move their violence to a new location.

When the Boston Police resume with violence and reckless disregard for human life we need to have those actions on record to refute the BS explanations offered by the murdererous police.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
28 Oct 2004
Less-lethal weapons such as the pepper ball gun are intended for use against armed suspects or those engaged in "aggressive physical resistance" - (i.e., fighting).

Toxicologists, including the one retained by lawyers in Portland, Oregon suing the police for attacking peaceful protesters, state that such weapons are not to be used for crowd control, and that police routinely ignore instructions to fire these weapons at the ground, and not directly at people.

The pepper balls are intended to burst on the ground and force people out of an area.

The Boston police, according to <a href="http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2004/10/27/bosto;> this article</a> misused the guns by firing directly at people. Someone fired randomly into the crowd, killing Victoria Snelgrove.

I hope people who know Snelgrove or other people attacked by the police sue the crap out of the city and the individual officers involved, and the officer who killed Snelgrove is convicted of at least manslaughter, for recklessly firing into a crowd without regard for human life.

The National Police Accountability Project, a sister organization to the National Lawyers Guild, is headquartered in Boston, at 14 Beacon Street. In addition, Michael Avery, President of the Guild, is a professor at Northeastern University's law school. Hopefully, these groups will be able to obtain justice for Ms. Snelgrove's family.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
28 Oct 2004
Some of the posts here are worthy of comment and actually debate and ask important issues about less lethal. The rest seem to be a bunch of whiny morons who don't like cops and let their bigoted attitude show. Police Officers are human just the same as everyone else, there are good and bad just like any other profession. Stop wimpering about the ticket you got and stick to the issues. Im very interested to learn more on this issue and the tragedy in Boston.

"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt"
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
29 Oct 2004
The term is less lethal not less than lethal. You can kill an elephant with a wine bottle if you hit it enough times. Almost every death from O.C. was from positional asphyxia not the pepper. If properly used these tools are invaluable and life saving, proper deployment and training is the key because anything can be dangerous if used improperly or just misused. Police could go back to the old baton and pistol routine but what a shame when a good tool used with good training is all that is needed though I agree it is just a tool and not a panacea.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal? : protests against Janes in Ireland
31 Oct 2004
protest against less lethal Janes defense conference in Ireland...

Ireland has cosy hotels now so they're having all there dodgy conferences here :/ and refueling !
protest and pics
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=67102

build up
http://www.indymedia.ie/newswire.php?story_id=66325
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
01 Nov 2004
Since the public are fully accountable in law for use of any type of weapon, vehicle or other, which in turn results in either injury or death of a victim, and since the police person has been issued a non lethal weapon, which has resulted in the death of a person then he or she who is responsible, should be charged with murder one
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
05 Nov 2004
I have used the bean bag shotgun several times and taken it out numerous other times. I am trained in its use and find it an invaluable option to avoid the aplication of deadly force. I believe with proper training for specific targets not a crowd control device, this gives the police officer other options which were not available before. The use of the bean bag shotgun has for myself alleviated the use of deadly force twice since its inception in the BPD.
Re: Less-Than-Lethal?
20 Mar 2006
Everyone sneers at Less-Than-Lethal weapons and there use. They say they "might" hurt or kill someone. But I would like to see these persons put into a situation were these weapons are an option. Would they fire an FN 303 or would they go hand to hand with the group of assaints that are trying to kill them or someone else? Just a thought.
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