Adam DeMarco, a major in the D.C. National Guard, recently told lawmakers that a leading U.S. military police officer inquired about the weapon in an email he received on the morning of June 1.
Federal authorities forcefully cleared protesters from Lafayette Square later that evening during an incident that resulted in litigation, international condemnation and an infamous photo-op.
Maj. DeMarco told members of the House Committee on Natural Resources about the email on Aug. 28, NPR first reported Wednesday. A military spokesperson later confirmed the inquiry was made.
Responding to questions raised by the House committee, Maj. DeMarco said the provost marshal of Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region (JFHQ-NCR), the lead military police official for the area, asked in the email if D.C National Guard possessed an Active Denial System, or ADS.
“The email stated that ‘ADS can provide our troops a capability 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 non-lethal manner. 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,’” Maj. DeMarco told committee members.
Maj. DeMarco said he replied to say the D.C. National Guard possessed neither an ADS nor another device sought by the military police officer known as a Long Range Acoustic Device, or LRAD.
JFHQ-NCR spokesman Col. Robert Phillips confirmed the inquiry into the heat ray weapon was made “as a matter of due diligence and prudent military planning,” NPR reported later Wednesday.
The command “inquired informally about capabilities across the full-spectrum of non-lethal systems, to include the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) and Active Denial System (ADS),” the spokesperson said, according to NPR. “JFHQ-NCR does not possess these systems, did not request such systems, and no further action was taken as a result of the officer’s E-Mail query.”
Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the days and weeks the followed.
Moments later, President Trump walked through the park to pose for photographs in front of a neighboring church that had been damaged in earlier unrest triggered by Floyd’s death.
The government of Australia voiced concerns and launched a probe after a pair of Australian journalists among the protesters were attacked in the process by members of the U.S. Park Police.
Civil liberties groups have sued the president and members of his administration on behalf of protesters ejected from the park, and local religious leaders slammed Mr. Trump for his photo-op at historic St. John’s Episcopal Church.
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