Whistleblower: Feds Sought ‘Heat Ray’ Device Before Clearing DC Protest In June
The Washington Post reports that whistleblower testimony about the clearing of protesters from Lafayette Square in early June indicates that federal officials began stockpiling ammunition and seeking a ‘heat ray’ ahead of the effort.
- D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco said in sworn testimony that defense officials sought a weapon called the Active Denial System, “designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays," The Post reported.
The technology, also called a ‘heat ray,’ was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.
- Defense officials also had authorized the transfer of 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory.
- DeMarco, who was present at the protest, disputes the “administration’s claims that protesters were violent, tear gas was never used and demonstrators were given ample warning to disperse — a legal requirement before police move to clear a crowd.”
- U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan testified that a Long Range Acoustic Device was used to give protesters clear warnings to disperse. But DeMarco told lawmakers that wasn’t possible because officials had been unable to get an LRAD.
- According to an email sent by the Defense Department’s top military police officer in the Washington region, on which DeMarco was copied, officials asked the D.C. National Guard if it had an LRAD or ADS device.
- A top military police officer said the ADS device could safely and ethically “provide our troops a capacity they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range.”
- Federal police were unable to secure a heat ray device or an LRAD. Instead, Park Police gave crowd dispersal orders using a handheld megaphone.
DeMarco told lawmakers he was standing about 30 yards from the announcer but could barely make out the order. The chanting crowd, which was even farther from the officer with the megaphone, did not appear to hear the warnings, DeMarco said.
- Protesters, journalists and humanitarian aid volunteers who were present have maintained that they never heard a warning before police advanced on the crowd.
DeMarco told legislators that, having served in a combat zone where he spent time assessing various threats, he did not feel threatened at any point by protesters near the White House "or assess them to be violent."
“From my observation, these demonstrators — our fellow American citizens — were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” he said. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”
- After the park was cleared, President Trump walked from the White House to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo op with a Bible.