Trump Admin Wanted to Use 'Heat Ray' on Protesters Which Pentagon Refused to Deploy in Iraq

The Trump administration sought to use a "heat ray" that the Pentagon refused to deploy in Iraq to deal with protesters who were forcibly cleared from Lafayette Square so President Donald Trump could have a photo op in front of a historic church, according to reports.

Federal officials asked about crowd control devices, including a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) and an Active Denial System (ADS), hours before the protesters were cleared from the square near the White House on June 1, according to a military whistleblower.

At the time, demonstrations sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis had roiled cities across the U.S. including Washington, D.C.

D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco's written remarks to the House Natural Resources Committee, which is investigating the use of force against protesters in Lafayette Square on June 1, were first reported by NPR and The Washington Post.

DeMarco told lawmakers that the Defense Department's top military police officer for the Washington region had emailed the D.C. National Guard at around 11.35 a.m. on June 1, asking if they had an LRAD or an ADS. DeMarco, who was copied on the email, said he responded just after noon, saying they did not have either device.

The ADS, developed by the military as a means to disperse crowds, is designed to make people feel like their skin is on fire when in range of its invisible beams, but there have been concerns about its safety as well as the ethics of using it.

According to The Post, Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the technology in Iraq. It is not clear if the device has ever actually been deployed in combat.

The New York Times reported last month that the Trump administration had considered using the device on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border days before the 2018 midterm elections. Kirstjen Nielsen, who was the secretary of Homeland Security at the time, shot the idea down.

According to newspaper, she said she "would not authorize the use of such a device, and that it should never be brought up again in her presence."

Yet in the email to the D.C. National Guard in June, DeMarco said the Provost Marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region wrote the ADS "can 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, and in a safe, effective, and nonlethal manner."

According to DeMarco, the email added the ADS "can immediately compel an individual to cease threatening behavior or depart through application of a directed energy beam that provides a sensation of intense heat on the surface of the skin. The effect is overwhelming, causing an immediate repel response by the targeted individual."

A Defense Department official briefed on the matter told The Post that emails asking about specific weaponry were routine inventory checks to see what equipment was available.

DeMarco's testimony has also contradicted the Trump administration's claims that demonstrators in the square in front of the White House were violent and that they had been given ample warning to disperse.

U.S. Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan testified that protesters were given clear warning to disperse with an LRAD, also known as a sound cannon. But DeMarco said when he was at Lafayette Park that evening, he was told by a Park Police sergeant that the device wasn't on site.

He said Park Police officers issued orders to disperse using a handheld microphone attached to a red-and-white megaphone. DeMarco said he had been standing around 30 yards from the commander making the announcement and said it was "barely audible." Police are legally required to give repeated clear warnings for demonstrators to disperse before any escalation.

Protesters have said they heard no warnings before officers on foot and horseback moved to clear the area, charging into a peaceful crowd and clubbing protesters as well as deploying several rounds of chemical irritants and other munitions.

Minutes after the forceful clearing, Trump headed to St. John's Episcopal Church where he held a Bible aloft as he posed for photographs.

The U.S. Park Police, the Department of Defense and the D.C. National Guard have been contacted for comment.

Lafayette
US Park Police stand watch inside Lafayette Square near the White House in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020 as demonstrators protest the death of George Floyd. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images
Trump Admin Wanted to Use 'Heat Ray' on Protesters Which Pentagon Refused to Deploy in Iraq | U.S.