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HomeHealthMixed Reactions on LA’s Loud-Music Method to Deter Homeless People from Subway...

Mixed Reactions on LA’s Loud-Music Method to Deter Homeless People from Subway Station, Crime Control

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Los Angeles has started a pilot programme to drive away homeless people from a subway station: deafening classical music. The drive is allegedly a new tool to decrease crime as well as discourage people from residing at tube stations.

The Westlake/MacArthur Park Metro stop is filled with floodlights and blaring loud music by the likes of Beethoven, Mozart, and Vivaldi reports said. According to a Metro report, the stop is a “hot spot” because “open-air drug sales” are taking place on the plaza above ground, reports said.
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The Metro is allegedly facing a crisis that is not just ridership related. Surveys reveal that passengers feel less secure than they did prior to the pandemic while riding the trains, and women are deciding not to ride as a result. About 21 individuals have died since the beginning of 2023, most of them from overdoses.

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The campaign is part of a trial program that was started in January to drive out homelessness and reduce crime, but some critics have called the sonorous approach tone-deaf torture that does not deal with the root issues.

Employing loud music for unintended purposes is not new. Its use as a tool for discomfort and control has a lengthy history. After President George H.W. Bush attacked Panama in 1989, Manuel Noriega was imprisoned in the Vatican embassy in Panama City and subjected to “music torture” by the US. Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was played loudly by the US troops at Guantanamo Bay in front of Iraqi detainees.

However, the use of music is contentious, with internet commentators branding it a cruel form of torture. Additionally, detractors claim that it does not do anything to resolve the station’s issues’ underlying causes.

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According to musicologist Lily E. Hirsch, author of “Music in American Crime Prevention and Punishment”, classical music can have a dystopian and spooky feel to it when it is used in dark and violent ways. According to LA Metro spokesman Dave Sotero, “the music is not loud” at MacArthur Park and was played at 72 decibels (dB). On the other hand, LA Times reporters used a handheld decibel reader and found that levels at the station averaged at 83 dB. In some places, it peaked at 90 dB.

On the intense string symphony playing at the station, one social media citing a psychological thriller, said that the music “gives it the Clockwork Orange feel.”

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