In June, in the hours preceding the clearing of peaceful protesters from Washington’s Lafayette Square, located in front of the White House, a top military police officer tried to obtain heat ray and sound cannon weapons, an Army National Guard major told lawmakers in written testimony.

Adam DeMarco, the major who serves in the District of Columbia National Guard, was called to enforce the crackdown on protesters.

DeMarco told House lawmakers last month that he had received an email from a top law enforcement official at the Defense Department, which asked if the National Guard was equipped with sound cannons or a nonlethal heat ray, which is known as the Active Denial System, or A.D.S.

“A.D.S. can provide our troops a capability they currently do not have,” the officer wrote, according to Major DeMarco’s testimony.


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“The A.D.S. 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.”

DeMarco also said that federal police officers had stockpiled “approximately 7,000 rounds” of live ammunition in the hours before the clash.

While the Guard ultimately did not have either the heat ray or sound cannon weapons, the incident provides a window into law enforcement’s response to peaceful demonstrations by the White House over the killing of a black man George Floyd.

A Defense Department official told The Washington Post that the inquiries were “routine inventory checks to determine what equipment was available.”

After an unruly weekend of countrywide demonstrations this spring, the Trump administration moved to deploy federal law enforcement throughout different U.S. cities.

Right across from the White House, some of those federal forces used tear gas and stunned grenades to disperse a crowd of protesters so that President Donald Trump could visit St. John’s Episcopal Church. Trump was visiting the church, which protesters had lit on fire the previous weekend, for a photo-op, in which he posed for photos with a Bible.

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