A National Guard major is preparing to challenge before congress the official explanation given by the Trump administration in regards to the forceful clearing of Washington's Lafayette Square on June 1, The Washington Post reported.
Major Adam DeMarco was stationed at the park, which had become a central location in the Black Lives Matter protests stemming from the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, when orders were given to clear the area of demonstrators. He did not believe the actions of both Park Police and Secret Service were justified.
"From what I could observe, the demonstrators were behaving peacefully"DeMarco, an Iraq War veteran, also described how the warnings given to protesters to disperse the area were barely audible, hence an unfair justification to enact the force they used. The sequence -- which included a line of both mounted and foot officers charging at protesters and beating them while a haze of tear gas filled the air -- was broadcasted live on both cable and social media and became one of the most widely discussed incidents in the aftermath of Floyd's death.
The dispersal was followed by President Donald Trump walking across the street and through Lafayette Square to pose for photos with a bible at the historic St. John's Church.
A Park Police liaison disputed that tear gas was deployed, telling DeMarco that his team was instead using "stage smoke," as the major went on to say. But he claimed he could feel the stinging in his nose and eyes himself, and that he even discovered spent tear gas canisters in the street later on that night.
Shortly before the dispersal, DeMarco spoke with Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to give the general an assessment from the front lines.
"As the senior National Guard officer on the scene at the time, I gave General Milley a quick briefing on our mission and the current situation," DeMarco wrote.
"General Milley told me to ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators' First Amendment rights."As The Inquisitr previously reported, Milley was one the few top White House officials who appeared alongside Trump as he walked across the street for the St Johns photo op, something he later called a "mistake."
DeMarco's written account came in advance of his scheduled testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday. It is expected that the officer will invoke the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, a 1988 law created to provide security for military personal reporting misconduct.