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US: Laser pointers used in Jan. 6 Capitol attack?
The relevant paragraph states: "D.C. police said Monday [Jan. 11] that one District officer remained hospitalized. They described many of the injuries as sprains and bruised arms and legs, but many others appear far more serious and caused by repeated blows from sticks, poles and clubs and laser pointers shined into officers’ eyes."
From the Washington Post
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
Besides this one reference, LaserPointerSafety.com has not been able to find any other account or claim of laser pointer misuse during the Capitol attack.
There are videos of a rioter aiming a bright handheld spotlight at officers. We do not know if these are Capitol Police, or D.C. police called in to assist.
In the top screenshot, it appears an officer at the right side of the doorway is aiming a similar spotlight out towards the rioters. At bottom center is the only protester we have found with a light.
Click on either photo for link to original video
The bottom screenshot, from a video by Brendan Gutenschwager (@bgonthescene - Twitter) shows the spotlight. Despite the bright yellow sticker, after extensive searching we have not been able to find the model of the spotlight. Here is one that is similar:
It is not known if the rioter's spotlight was misidentified as a laser pointer, or whether there were laser pointers used elsewhere.
In extensive viewing of footage taken inside and outside the Capitol during the event, we have not been able to spot any laser light or other signs of pointer usage.
The riot took place during daylight hours, when laser pointers typically are not used during protests. There was a 6 pm curfew, enforced by D.C. police and other officers. It may be that pointers were used at dusk or after sunset which was at 5:02 pm that day.
In conclusion, if there was any laser pointer misuse at during the U.S. Capitol riot, it appears to be minor or inconsequential (or non-existent) compared with misuse at U.S. protests earlier in the summer.
For more information: We have listings of LaserPointerSafety.com stories tagged "protester", "riots", and "arrests at protest." We also have a page about Laser use during protests.
India: "Laser" aimed at Rahul Gandhi is from lens flare
Congress leaders said the dot was from a laser, possibly mounted on a sniper gun. In a letter sent to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, they wrote "…A (green) laser was pointed at [Gandhi's] head, intermittently on at least seven separate occasions in a short period; including twice at his temple on the right side of the head…. A perusal of the video by various persons including former security personnel leads to a prima facie conclusion that this laser could emanate from a potential weapon such as a sniper gun."
The Ministry of Home Affairs countered that the light came from a cameraman's mobile phone. A MHA spokesperson said "The green light shown in the clipping was found to be that of a mobile phone used by the AICC [All India Congress Committee] photographer, who was videographing the impromptu press interaction of Shri Rahul Gandhi near the collectorate at Amethi. Director (SPG [Special Protection Group]) has also informed MHA that this position was conveyed to the personal staff of Shri Rahul Gandhi."
Still frame from 15 seconds into the interview video clip, with a green dot on Rahul Gandhi's head circled. The entire YouTube video can be seen here.
Congress Party leaders were especially concerned about security since Rahul Gandhi's grandmother and father, both former prime ministers of India, were both assassinated.
From Business Today and The Hindu
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM:
We are not aware of any mobile phones that come with green laser pointers. There is a iPhone accessory called iPin that fits into the audio jack, but this emits a low-power red beam.
The green dot only appears when there is a bright sun reflection in the camera lens. In the still frame above, a microphone logo cover is reflecting into the lens, at exactly the time the green dot appears. Here is another still frame with the same effect, from about 1:34 into the video clip. Once again, the dot corresponds with a bright reflection from the microphone logo cover.
The green dot, therefore seems to be caused by lens flare — internal reflections inside the camera lens. The camera sensor sees the lens flare dot, but there would be no dot "outside" in the real world or on Rahul Gandhi.
This may be what the MHA meant by "the light … was found to be that of a mobile phone," e.g. that the dot was internal to the phone's lens.
This is the second video we have seen from India where it was claimed lasers were being used, but the explanation turned out to be lens flare. The first case involved alleged laser harassment of an elephant.
India: Laser pointers said to harass elephants
An April 12 2018 story says that although “[s]evere torture and unscientific handling” can cause problems, that laser pointers also may have been used recently by “a mysterious group with vested interests.”
According to the story, “There were complaints that light beams were shined continuously from a distance into the eyes of elephants paraded at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram and some other local temples in Thiruvalla and Pathanamthitta. It was alleged that the jumbos turned restive and violent after being blinded with the high-powered laser pointer.”
The story includes a 47-second video clip of an elephant refusing to get onto a truck, while a dot moves around on and near the elephant.
COMMENTARY FROM LASERPOINTERSAFETY.COM
An analysis indicates that the moving dot is not from a laser, but is from lens flare — internal reflection in the camera lens of a bright light in the scene.
The screenshot below, from one second into the video, shows the dot circled in green, and a bright light circled in red.
As the video is played, the dot moves around. Its movements are correlated with the bright light. For example, when the elephant’s body blocks the light, the dot disappears. Because it is a reflection, it moves opposite to the light, and its movement also changes based on the tilt of the camera lens.
In addition, the dot appears yellow or white. This correlates with the light color. Yellow is very uncommon for laser pointers, while there are no “white” laser pointer beams. A green or red dot would indicate an actual laser.
While there may be other incidents of laser pointer misuse in Kerala, the moving dot in this particular video does not, in the view of LaserPointerSafety.com, show a laser dot or any actual (real-world) light on the elephant.
From Manorama Online
US: Laser aimed at officers during St. Paul protests
On July 9 in Philadelphia, CBSPhilly reported that a person was arrested for aiming a laser at a police helicopter after the protest. WHYY Newsworks said that a man was “briefly detained by officers after he used a powerful flashlight to point at the helicopter overhead. Because no illegal laser-pointers were used, he was sent away with a citation for disorderly conduct….” It is not known if these two reports referred to the same incident.
A Google search as of July 11 did not turn up any additional instances where lasers were used in or around protests.
Japan: Teen injured by LED pen "toy" held 40 seconds in his eye
A December 2006 incident has come to our attention. A 15-year-old Japanese boy suffered a retinal injury and visual loss after deliberately looking into a 5 mW violet (410 nm) light emitting diode for a total of about 40 seconds. The LED was in a pen was sold as a toy called “Secret Pen”. The toy appears to consist of an LED light which can excite ink that is invisible under ordinary light but which fluoresces under ultraviolet and near-UV light. The 410 nm wavelength caused photochemical damage to the retina.
According to a 2011 paper in Retinal Cases & Brief Reports, the LED was aimed into the teen’s eye from a distance of about 1 cm. It was held there for about 20 seconds as he deliberately stared into the light. This exposure was repeated the next day. About two weeks later, decreased vision (20/50 on the Snellen scale) was noted in the right eye.
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