If used, the heat ray would have made demonstrators' skin feel as though it were on fire.
An Army National Guard major said in sworn testimony that federal officials stockpiled 7,000 rounds of ammunition and were contemplating the use of heat ray guns on protesters demonstrating against systemic racism in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reported Wednesday night.
D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco was testifying as part of a congressional investigation into federal agents' use of force against peaceful protesters who were demonstrating in a park across the street from the White House on June 1.
Federal agents used tear gas and smoke bombs in addition to force to remove protesters from the park so that Donald Trump could stage a photo-op with a Bible in front of a nearby church.
The heat ray gun DeMarco said federal law enforcement mulled using has been around since the early 2000s. Some military officials wanted to use it during the Iraq War but the Pentagon decided against it because it felt the weapon "could be misconstrued as a torture machine," according to a 2007 Associated Press report.
In 2008, a report said the device was dangerous and "potentially life-threatening," according to Wired.
Still, the top federal law enforcement official who oversees Washington, D.C., said the heat ray could be a good tool to use against protesters, writing in an email provided to Congress by DeMarco that it could "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 use of force against peaceful protesters for Trump's photo-op caused a major uproar.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit days after the incident against the Trump administration, saying the use of force was a violation of the protesters' Constitutional right to free speech and assembly.
Trump, for his part, has urged the use of violent force against protesters, who have been demanding changes to policing following the deaths of unarmed Black Americans at the hands of police officers.
In a speech before the Bible photo-op, Trump demanded the use of military force to stop the protests, declaring: "I am your president of law and order."
Trump's Attorney General William Barr agrees with Trump's demand for forceful treatment of protesters, even pushing state prosecutors to hit protesters charged with rioting with "a rarely used sedition law," CNN reported on Wednesday.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.