Whenever there's a display of Pride, it's sadly true that anti-LGBTQ protesters are not far behind, waving derogatory signs and yelling hateful language at members of the community and their allies.
To drown out this hatred, artist Matthew Terrell has created an ingenious art project: the Hate Shield. The first-of-its-kind creation, funded by Georgia's Fulton County and the Atlanta Mayor's Office, functions as a series of mobile soundproof walls that can be set up in front of megaphone-wielding bigots.
The shield is crafted from reflective Mylar, an aluminum sheet, and two inches of foam, the combination of which is designed to block out both visuals and sound. The side facing the protesters is a mirror, which is intended to force them to confront their hatred and deprive them of the sight of people on the other side of the shield that they may offend.
Each individual panel of the shield measures 4' by 8,' weighs 12 pounds, and is erected on extendable poles so that two people -- equipped with soundproof earmuffs -- can change the height and location to block the angle of the megaphones. Passersby will also be offered earplugs. When employed in this manner, the shield can silence noise up to 120 decibels, which is about the sound level of a rock concert.
Terrell said he was inspired to create the Hate Shield after witnessing firsthand the "chaos" caused by Pride protesters, who require a police presence and city resources in addition to spouting vitriol.
"After seeing these hate protesters cause chaos year after year, I knew I wanted to use my creative skills to solve the problem," the Atlanta-based artist said. "I believe artists can provide creative solutions to problems all around us, including ending hate. This work shows how we can peacefully address hate speech, in a way that respects everyone's first amendment rights."
The Hate Shield will debut at Atlanta Pride October 12, but Terrell intends to bring this project nationwide "wherever they may be needed" be it Pride celebrations, graduations, or even funerals. It will be viewable (and in action!) at Piedmont Park in Atlanta that day.
See the full schematics for the Hate Shield below.