Nat’l Guard Commander Testifies Against Barr’s & Trump Bible Photo-Op

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On June 1, amidst the initial surge in anti-police brutality protests across the country in the wake of the police murder of a black man named George Floyd, federal agents violently attacked peaceful protesters who had gathered in Lafayette Square, which is in the vicinity of the White House. At the time, a curfew in the city had not yet gone into effect, but Attorney General Bill Barr has suggested that the attack on protesters was meant to “protect federal facilities and federal personnel and also to address the rioting that was interfering with the government’s function.” Major Adam DeMarco, who is a commander with the D.C. National Guard, has now revealed to Congress that Barr’s assessment of the situation flatly does not correspond with the reality of what he observed.

DeMarco was on the scene as part of his role as a liaison between the D.C. National Guard and the Park Police, who the D.C. National Guard was tasked with supporting. The Park Police initially claimed that no tear gas was used in their attack on the Lafayette Square protesters, although they’ve since admitted otherwise, and DeMarco confirms that he saw tear gas canisters affixed to the vests of Park Police personnel and that after the attack on protesters, he found empty canisters in the area.

As background for the attack on protesters, he explains that he observed the first order for protesters to leave the area at about 6:20 P.M., well before the city’s 7 o’clock curfew. To make matters worse, the dispersal order was given via a megaphone that was some 50 yards — meaning 150 feet — from the protest crowd, and DeMarco reports that he “saw no indication that the demonstrators were cognizant of the warnings to disperse.”

DeMarco adds that although he had been told that protesters would be cleared from the area in order to construct a new security barrier between crowds and the White House, supplies for the barrier were not delivered until 9 P.M., and the barrier “was not completed until later that night.” But what did happen well before that? Trump held a photo op at the nearby St. Johns Church.

In his prepared remarks meant for a hearing of the House Committee On Natural Resources, DeMarco adds:

‘[The] events I witnessed at Lafayette Square on the evening of June 1 were deeply disturbing to me, and to fellow National Guardsmen. Having served in a combat zone, and understanding how to assess threat environments, at no time did I feel threatened by the protestors or assess them to be violent. In addition, considering the principles of proportionality of force and the fundamental strategy of graduated responses specific to civil disturbance operations, it was my observation that the use of force against demonstrators in the clearing operation was an unnecessary escalation of the use of force. From my observation, those demonstrators – our fellow American citizens — were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.’

Notably, the Trump administration has not let up in their campaign of violence against peaceful protesters. Federal agents have been engaged in high-profile recent violent clashes with protesters in Portland.