Atlanta artist seeks to silence hate at Pride with “Hate Shield”

Matthew Terrell’s Hate Shields will block the sound of anti-LGBTQ protestors at Atlanta Pride, October 12

by Andrew Alexander
October 7, 2019

Hate will be a little quieter this year. At least, that’s the hope of Atlanta-based artist Matthew Terrell, who will launch his latest project “The Hate Shield” at Atlanta Pride this Saturday, October 12.

For years, Terrell has noted the group of anti-LGBT protestors who stand outside Piedmont Park and use megaphones to yell slurs at Pride-goers.

“These protestors call people ‘fags’ and ‘dykes’ and tell people that God does not love them because they’re gay,” Terrell says. “A police officer has to stand by to ensure a riot doesn’t break out.” The megaphones the protestors use can reach up to an ear-piercing 120 decibels, Terrell says, and the protestors also have extendable poles so they can lift their megaphones in the air and point them at people.

In response, Terrell has designed and built a series of mobile soundproof walls he calls “Hate Shields” meant to counter the megaphones. Each of the four 4×8 sound-dampening panels on extendable poles is meant to be manipulated by two people.

Images courtesy Matthew Terrell

The panels can be lifted into the air and maneuvered to block the megaphones at any angle. The apparatus itself weighs around 12 pounds, and each panel features support harnesses to allow the panels to be held for long periods of time.

Each volunteer involved with “The Hate Shield” will be equipped with soundproof earmuffs, and passersby will be offered earplugs, as well. Terrell estimates that each wall can reduce sound by up to 25%, and that the walls also greatly reduce how far sound can travel. Eight volunteers will operate four of the walls during Atlanta Pride weekend at the gate at Piedmont Park at 14th and Piedmont.

As a final touch, Terrell has placed mirrored panels on the back of each shield so the anti-LGBT protestors only see reflections of themselves while they shout their angry messages. The ultimate goal, Terrell says, is to launch “The Hate Shield” as a nationwide project, wherever it may be needed.

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