However, the recent announcement that India (a constitutional republic) has now green-lighted drones for controlling “unruly crowds” in its northern capital Lucknow should get any skeptic’s attention. Incidentally, even among highly populated India, the Uttar Pradesh region is a populous area of 204 million people, putting it into the range of most of the United States.
The transfer of weapons of war such as drones from foreign to domestic use should be seen as the ultimate canary in the coal mine for any supposedly democratic country.
It should be noted that India is by no means the first to consider drones for crowd dispersal or suppression. In 2014, drone maker Desert Wolf sent the drone pictured below to Turkey as well as to South Africa to potentially be used to quell dissent, which in South Africa included platinum miners who were on strike:
India already has embarked on a troubling range of oppressive measures throughout their society, including another “first” – a biometric national ID program for all of its 1.2 billion residents, of course in response to the standard concerns of fraud and cybercrime, but now covering nearly all human activity.
The introduction of drones has been incremental as well. Initially drones were approved in India for surveillance during 2014 riots, which were the cause of 3 deaths and at least 12 injuries. However, drones have since been widely rolled out to monitor other “potential trouble zones” that were not in response to any violence taking place. Now, The Times of India spoke with the Superintendent of Police who had the following to say about the newly expanded directive, which has to make one question how adding a new method of violence will lead to any reduction in casualties:
“We have purchased five drone cameras with capacity of lifting two kg weight. They can be used to shower pepper powder on an unruly mob in case of any trouble ….”
Lucknow Police will probably be the first in the country to have such hi-tech surveillance gadget, he said, adding drones will assist not only in checking crimes but also in keeping a track of criminals. (Source) [emphasis added]
We must keep in mind that some of our very own police have seemed quite excited about enhancing their surveillance drones. Back in 2012 the following comments were made regarding the use of a Vanguard Shadowhawk drone in Texas, which fortunately earned massive condemnation and a stop to any concrete plans:
While the drone is currently being used for surveillance purposes only, law enforcement officials are considering utilizing these weapons systems.
“It might be advantageous to have this type of ‘less lethal’ weapons platform on the UAV,” said Randy McDaniel, the chief deputy for the Montgomery County Sherriff’s Department, in an interview with The Daily. (Source)
The “weapons platform” included rubber bullets, taser, and tear gas. But its ultimate potential was slated to be far worse:
According to Salon, an Ohio police lieutenant interested in the drone was told by Vanguard representatives that it is also capable of carrying grenade launchers and 12-gauge shotguns.
To its credit, the ACLU jumped right in with an emphatic statement about such talk within the United States:
Catherine Crump, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), has expressed concerns about the use of such weapons on domestic drones. “It’s simply not appropriate to use any force, lethal or non-lethal, on a drone,” she told CBS News. [emphasis added]
Nevertheless, U.S. Border Control has repeatedly seemed eager to consider non-lethal weaponized drones used to “immobilize people.”
The documents, obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through a Freedom of Information Act request, show the CPB suggesting in a “law enforcement sensitive” report to Congress that its drones could be upgraded to include the weapons to shoot at “targets of interest.” The documents do not detail specific weapons, but “non-lethal” rounds deployed on drones could feasibly include rubber bullets, tear gas, or a Taser-like shock. [emphasis added] (Source)
It appears that tyranny is spreading; and, at least for some, it is happening in what is thought to be the most unlikely of places. Constitutional rights are supposed to thwart the rise of a pervasive police state but, as we’ve learned in many ways, enforcement of those protections often takes a back seat to political interests of money and power. Stay vigilant, because now that one of the “good guys” has officially opened the door of domestic suppression by drones within a constitutional framework others are sure to not be far behind.
Originally published at Activist Post.