Feds Just Curious About Maybe Using A Freakin’ HEAT RAY On DC Protesters
So, back in June, Donald Trump had American civilians in Lafayette Square teargassed and beaten so he could have a photo-op with Ivanka's designer Bible outside a church that didn't want him there. It turns out the situation could've gone in an even more despotic direction. According to military whistleblower Adam DeMarco, a major in the National Guard, federal officials had started stockpiling ammunition and seeking out “crowd-control" technology that's “too unpredictable" (i.e. randomly deadly) for war zones.
DeMarco was the senior-most DC National Guard officer on the ground during Trump's assault on democracy. He served as liaison between the National Guard and the Park Police. I guess he's just another “disgruntled employee."
From USA Today:
DeMarco additionally wrote that the provost marshal requested a long-range acoustic device that is frequently used to disperse crowds. The LRAD releases a piercing noise that allows a broadcast voice or recording to then play at a deafening level, allowing people at the back of crowds to hear.
It's horrifying that federal forces were preparing to go after non-violent protesters like they were common Hulks.
US Park Police Chief Gregory Monahan had testi-lied that protesters were given notice to disperse thanks to the helpful and ear-drum shattering LRAD. However, DeMarco told lawmakers this was impossible because the device wasn't present at the scene when the tear gas starting flowing.
See, the good news is that under a 2015 settlement, federal police are required to "give large crowds several advance warnings to disperse" before they're permitted to use more “aggressive tactics." The warnings must be loud enough that people in the back of a crowd, even several blocks away, can hear. The LRAD would do this but the bad news is that your ear drums are probably pudding.
The Defense Department's top cop in the Washington region also asked if the DC National Guard had a microwave-like weapon called the "Active Denial System," which isn't something a dominatrix uses. The pleasant device is designed to "make people feel as if their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays."
The Active Denial System, also called a "heat ray," was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, its safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.
These are just protesters, not demonic hordes from Apokolips. Why was the military even considering busting out “heat rays"?
The Trump administration has argued that officers were responding to violent protesters who had been igniting fireworks, setting fires and throwing water bottles and rocks at police.
I don't support throwing rocks at anybody. However, the police are ones to talk about the damaging effects of water given how they used to spray Civil Rights protesters with hoses. Still, the police are decked out in the finest riot gear. They should be able to contain a rowdy crowd without resorting to high-tech torture devices.
The military spent a lot of time and money testing the device and “zapping" thousands of military volunteers. During a 2007 test, an oopsie in the device's power settings resulted in second-degree burns to an airman's body.
The Pentagon had declined to use the “heat ray" in Iraq, but in 2018, when Trump demanded “extreme action" against the imaginary migrant caravan, Customs and Border Protection officials had suggested using the "heat ray" on human beings. These are the kind of people who might look the other way when monsters are removing women's uteruses.
DeMarco's testimony has contradicted the Trump administration's lies that the protesters were overwhelmingly violent and they were warned to disperse before the police busted heads. Col. Robert Phillips of the Defense Department's Joint Forces Headquarters-National Capital Region said in a statement Thursday that an official had sent an email asking about the National Guard's available death ray technology "as a matter of due diligence and prudent military planning." This wasn't a military exercise. They were dealing with American citizens exercising their constitutional rights to freely assemble and protest.
But in the email, on which DeMarco was copied, the lead military police officer in the National Capital Region wrote that the ADS device "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."
The email continued: "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."
Trump and his rightwing goons don't want people protesting. The police will always find a way to declare a protest “violent" and thus an “unlawful assembly." And eventually they'll start using the heat ray. It's monstrous but not a huge leap from tear gas. We need to remove Trump from office but also address the mentality within law enforcement that regards civilians as enemy combatants.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).