RIO DE JANEIRO – Police units in the 12 Brazilian states where matches will be played during the 2014 soccer World Cup in June received masks inspired by Star Wars character Darth Vader to equip their anti-riot officers, the firm that provided the gear reported.
The masks – which besides being designed to have a psychological effect protect the officers against gas attacks, allow them to withstand high temperatures and have a visor that does not fog up and a voice amplifier – were presented at the LAAD International Public and Corporate Security Fair, the largest of its kind in Latin America and which kicked off Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro.
The masks will be used by the anti-riot police during protests that might be staged during the World Cup, according to Welster Itage, the company which is responsible for importing the masks from the United States, where they were manufactured with the cooperation of the U.S. government.
According to the firm’s commercial analyst, Beni Iachan, “the aim is to cause a psychological effect in the demonstrators or in other citizens.”
Iachan told Efe that “the company already delivered 1,500 masks in Brazil and it will deliver another 3,700 before the World Cup begins,” going on to emphasize that they are made “with a very flexible rubber, resistant to up to 1,000 degrees Centigrade and don’t fog up.”
According to what the company said in a communique, the police hope to use the masks to “inhibit the ‘black blocks,’” a group that defends the use of violence at protests and which caused several incidents during the demonstrations for better public services staged in many Brazilian cities last year.
The masks have a tube through which the officers can sip water and use an air filter that can be linked to an external oxygen tube.
The equipment is the main attraction at the second LAAD Security fair.
With more than 160 exhibitors from 17 countries, the fair opened its doors on Tuesday in Rio and features equipment that can be used at the upcoming large public events that will be held in Brazil, including the World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games.