National Guard Official: June Attack On Protesters Outside WH Was ‘Unprovoked'
National Guard Major Adam DeMarco will say in testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday that the forceful removal of protesters from Lafayette Square in June was an “unprovoked escalation” against peaceful demonstrators, according to The Hill.
- DeMarco reportedly “is expected to testify that he was serving as a liaison between the city’s National Guard and Park Police in Lafayette Square on June 1, the day that protesters there were subjected to pepper balls and smoke canisters in an effort to clear the area.”
- Following the operation, President Donald Trump strolled through the park to St. John’s Church nearby, where he posed for a photo op.
- In his written testimony, DeMarco says, “Upon arrival, I received a briefing from my liaison with the Park Police and learned that the DC National Guard’s task would be to support a Park Police operation to clear demonstrators from the vicinity of Lafayette Square.”
“The Park Police plan was to clear H Street between Vermont Avenue to the east and Connecticut Avenue to the west, and move north on Vermont Avenue, 16th Street, and Connecticut Avenue to extend the security perimeter,” he’s expected to say. “The immediate objective of this clearing operation, I was told, was to install a larger security barricade on H Street along the northern edge of Lafayette Square."
- Acting Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan, who is also slated to testify on Tuesday, previously said “that smoke canisters and pepper balls were used to combat ‘violent’ protesters.”
- Monahan had also said “the demonstrators threw bricks, frozen water bottles and ‘caustic’ liquids at officers but did not mention any sort of ‘operation’ to clear protesters.”
- DeMarco is expected to tell Congress on Tuesday that he did not believe the protesters were violent.
“Those demonstrators — our fellow American citizens — were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force,” he’ll say.
“I saw demonstrators scattering and fleeing as the Civil Disturbance Unit charged toward them. I observed people fall to the ground as some Civil Disturbance Unit members used their shields offensively as weapons,” the testimony says. “I also observed unidentified law enforcement personnel behind our National Guardsmen using ‘paintball-like’ weapons to discharge what I later learned to be 'pepper balls' into the crowd, as demonstrators continued to retreat.”