The National Guard weighed the use of devices with the capacity to damage the hearing and physical integrity of the participants to stop the protests that swept through the US this summer to denounce police violence, a sign that – according to some analysts – makes even more evident the authoritarian tendencies of the Justice department and how far the attorney general, William Barr, is willing to go to defend the president, Donald Trump.
According to testimony before Congress from Washington DC National Guard Major Adam D. DeMarco, Defense officials considered the use of crowd control technology considered too unpredictable for use in theaters of war and they transferred large amounts of ammunition to the armory in the capital.
His words before the Congressional investigative commission have been confirmed by an email dated June 1, in which the chief of the Military Police of the Washington region asked the DC National Guard unit if they had a device long-range acoustic, called the LRAD, or a microwave-like weapon, the Active Denial System. The latter was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when it is within the range of invisible rays.
The Congress also investigates the use of force by the military and public order forces in confrontations against demonstrations that they unleashed chaos in the city the night of June 1, in order for Trump to reach St. John’s Episcopal Church. Once there, he photographed himself and made statements calling the protests simple vandalism.
While agents and soldiers violently restrained the protesters in front of millions of television and social media viewers, the president, with the bible in the hands and accompanied by the leaders of the Department of Justice and the Pentagon, he promised a stronger hand. General Mark Milley, Chief of the Board of General Staff, later apologized for participating in the event.
The new revelations show that Trump’s presence at St. John’s Church was precisely choreographed to make a show of force and ballistic power. Also to send a message about their determination to criminalize and suppress protests with all the force deemed appropriate.
Throughout the summer, Trump has sent federal troops in response to protests in many cities across the country, but they have only made the situation worse by causing multiple clashes. violent between protesters and federals. The quasi-paramilitary action and in extrajudicial cases of the agents of the police forces without identification and with military equipment has also contributed to creating a general alarm among the population about a situation never seen in the streets of the country.
Attorney General William Barr, who has turned the Justice Department into a judicial weapon at the president’s disposal, doubled down on his tough line during a teleconference last week with federal state attorneys. He urged them to explore more aggressive charges against those detained in the protests and to use even the rare charge of sedition, which could mean a pilgrim judicial attempt faced with the First Amendment that protects the right to protest against the Government.
Barr also encouraged federal charges against those arrested in the demonstrations, even in situations where other state ones already apply. Likewise, urged to prosecute the mayor from Seattle, Democrat Jenny Durkan, for allowing the establishment of an autonomous zone in the city free of police.
More of 200 people arrested In the protests they have been indicted so far with federal charges that include arson, assault on agents and firearms crimes. In turn, dozens of other detainees are charged with participating in protests in Portland, Oregon, where protesters faced violent repression.