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Army National Guard major told Congress feds requested heat beam and stored ammunition before clearing DC protest



May. Adam DeMarco described such preparations – including officials ‘failure to procure a high-level communications unit to warn protesters of dispersal – in an August letter answering follow-up questions after testifying before the House Committee on Natural Resources in June about federal officers’ efforts earlier the same month. DeMarco, who described himself as one of the top National Guard officials on the spot, ran as a Democrat for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District in 2018.

News about the contents of DeMarco’s letter was first reported by NPR.
In the letter, DeMarco wrote that the Department of Defense’s Chief Military Police for the National Capitol Region sent him and others an email on the day of the protests, asking if the DC National Guard had “a long-range acoustic device”
; that could blow up sound barriers. in protesters or “Active Denial Systems”, which contain “a directed energy beam that gives the feeling of intense heat on the surface of the skin.”

DeMarco wrote that he responded by saying that the DC National Guard had neither a device nor that he did not know that such an acoustic device was not used in Lafayette Square. When he looked to get the acoustic device the next day, the DC National Guard told him “that they were no longer looking for” it.

Therefore, the US Park Service’s “warnings to spread” did not come from this system, but from “a red and white megaphone” that DeMarco then used, he wrote. He referred in his personal testimony that even 30 meters from the megaphone were “the warnings to spread were barely audible and I was only able to distinguish a few words” – while the protester’s front line was even further away from the warning.

He also referred to a weapons transfer to the DC National Guard in the afternoon of the protest, which he later learned contained “about 7,000 rounds of ammunition.”

Federal agents were criticized for using smoke containers and rubber bullets to clear peaceful protesters who were in Lafayette Square, protesting against institutionalized racism and police brutality after George Floyd’s death at the hands of police. The move sparked outcries from lawmakers and public figures, including former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, with Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser slamming the incident as an attack on protesters.
Law enforcement dispersed the crowd just before President Donald Trump’s controversial photo shoot in a nearby church, where he held up a Bible after declaring himself “president of law and order.” The incident has come to embody Trump’s stance on widespread national unrest, which he has promised to crack down on in a key principle of his re-election campaign.

A Defense Department official briefed on the matter, minimizing DeMarco’s account, reporting the record, and claiming that emails asking for specific weapons were routine in assessing the available inventory. The official also told the newspaper that federal police failed to acquire a heat radiation unit during the first days of demonstrations in the city.

DeMarco’s lawyer David Laufman disputed this characterization Wednesday, saying there is “no” routine “in asking about the availability of a heat ray for use against U.S. citizens exercising their rights to first amendment.”

In its appearance before the committee in June, DeMarco testified that tear gas was actually being used – contrary to the official account of federal officials.

“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 was effects that were consistent with CS or ‘tear gas’. “, DeMarco told the panel. “And later that evening I found used tear gas canisters on the street nearby.”

Conversely, Gregory Monahan, the acting chief of the U.S. Park Police, testified at the time that tear gas was not being used, but his testimony suggested that he defined tear gas as a specific type of gas called CS gas.

This story has been updated with further details.

CNN’s Manu Raju, Gregory Wallace and Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.


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