Earlier this summer, a historic uprising against racist police violence occurred in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black Americans killed by police. As millions across the nation protested the injustice, some Americans saw for the first time the lengths that President Donald Trump's administration was willing to go to suppress opposition.
As peaceful protesters gathered outside the White House this past June, Americans were horrified to see law enforcement officers gas and beat them to clear a path. Minutes later, the President walked to the historic St. John's Episcopal Church where he posed for photos with a borrowed Bible.
But according to a new whistleblower report, the administration's plans to clear the protesters were even more insidious.
National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco wrote to a House committee that the National Capital Region's chief military police officer inquired about the availability of an "Active Denial System," colloquially known as a heat ray used for crowd control.
The Active Denial System uses concentrated beams of energy to create a painful burning sensation for its target, but questions remain as to the long term harm caused by the device. As a result, the device was largely sidelined in the 2010s.
In addition to the Active Denial System, the lead officer requested a long-term acoustic device, or sound cannon, also designed to forcibly remove crowds.
People were unsettled by DeMarco's revelations.
What's more, Trump's photo op—designed to reinforce the notion that Trump is a biblical, law and order President amidst overwhelming chaos—largely made things worse.
Not only did clergy from St. John's church vocally disavow the move, but the photoshoot largely highlighted what critics say is insincerity on Trump's part regarding his religious beliefs.