Whistleblower Says Military Police Considered Using Heat Ray on DC Protesters


An Army National Guard whistleblower told lawmakers in Congress that military police considered using extreme weapons on protesters. Shortly before protesters were cleared by tear gas and a violent push from authorities, the National Guard weighed bringing in weapons like a heat ray or experimental sonic cannons. The whistleblower said that a top military police officer sought these weapons as a way to disperse protesters.

DC Protests

Army National Guard Major Adam DeMarco, who serves in the District of Columbia, told lawmakers about a request from a top official for the extreme weapons. The heat ray, which is nonlethal, is known as the Active Denial System, or ADS.

DeMarco’s Testimony

“A.D.S. can provide our troops a capability they currently do not have,” DeMarco says the officer wrote. The story was first reported by The Washington Post. “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.”

Moreover, DeMarco told Congress that federal authorities in the capital stockpiled over 7,000 rounds of live ammo before the confrontation with protesters. The ammo was sourced from as far away as Tennessee and Missouri. While officials ended up using none of the ammo, nor the experimental heat ray or sonic cannon, their instincts to reach for them are illuminating.

Us Versus Them Thinking

A major component of many Black Lives Matter protests has been a desire to eliminate the police culture of “us vs. them” thinking. Protesters insist that police only see them as a threat, and view policing with a military, war-like combat focus. This has led to widespread calls among protesters to defund police and strip them of their military-style “peacekeeping” weaponry.

DeMarco’s testimony was eye-opening for many, as it showed the first instinct of the authorities was to reach for a heat ray. DeMarco’s lawyer, David Laufman, put a fine point on the situation. “This was an official inquiry made by a Department of Defense official into the availability of a heat ray to use against American citizens peacefully expressing their First Amendment rights,” Mr. Laufman said.

“There is nothing ‘routine’ about giving serious consideration to using such a device against our fellow citizens peacefully demonstrating in the streets of our nation’s capital.”

It is unclear what the side effects of such a heat ray would be. One would imagine it would not interact favorably with dental fillings, pacemakers or cell phones. Plans for medical attention were not in place from the federal authorities, making the suggestion of using such an experimental weapon distressing.