/  09.17.2020

Military police wanted to use a “heat ray” against Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington, D.C. this June, an Army National Guard major wrote in his newly revealed House testimony. Maj. Adam DeMarco, who was at the scene at the time, says officers used tear gas and prepared with thousands of rounds of ammunition to clear Lafayette Square, moments before Donald Trump posed for a photo opportunity in front of a church.

The “heat ray” — known as the Active Denial System (ADS) — makes targets’ skin feel like it’s burning by creating a “sensation of intense heat.” After testifying before the House Committee on Natural Resources in June, DeMarco wrote in August that the Defense Department’s head military officer had asked the National Guard for ADS prior to the protest. However, DeMarco says the department was unable to acquire it.

DeMarco also wrote that police failed to acquire “a Long Range Acoustic Device” to audibly warn protesters to clear the park. Therefore, he says they used “a red and white megaphone” to issue commands to the crowd, which “was barely audible.”

In his testimony, DeMarco wrote that police prepared for the protest with a weapons transfer that he later learned contained “approximately 7,000 rounds of ammunition.” Officers have been criticized for their methods of dispersing the peaceful crowd, which reportedly included tear gas, smoke grenades and rubber bullets. Police have denied using tear gas against the D.C. crowd, but DeMarco said the substance was used when he first testified before the House Committee.

“I could feel irritation in my eyes and nose and — based on my previous exposure to tear gas in my training at West Point and later in my Army training — I recognized that irritation as effects consistent with CS or ‘tear gas,’” he told the panel. “And later that evening, I found spent tear gas canisters on the street nearby.”

After DeMarco’s testimony broke this week, the Washington Post reported that a Defense Department official denied his allegations. According to the Post, the unnamed official said the weapons transfer was “routine.” However, DeMarco’s attorney said on Wednesday (Sept. 16) that “there is nothing ‘routine’ about inquiring about the availability of a heat ray to use against American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.”

Read DeMarco’s August testimony below.


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