D.C. Army National Guard Commander Adam DeMarco is set to tell Congress that anti-racism demonstrators removed from Washington’s Lafayette Square on June 1 before were “behaving peacefully” and that the Trump administration did speed up their removal for President Trump’s photo opportunity, in contradiction with prior statements from Attorney General William Barr and others. In a statement issued Monday, DeMarco called the deployment of tear gas against the protesters an “excessive use of force,” and explained that while law-enforcement officials did believe they would be clearing the area after 7 p.m. in accordance with the curfew, the timeline was moved up when Barr and others arrived in the park at about 6 p.m. He also says that fencing materials did not arrive until hours after Barr had ordered the Park Police to erect a fence. DeMarco is set to testify Tuesday before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is investigating the violent response to protesters and the international press at the scene.
DeMarco, an Iraq War veteran, also states that Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told him not to let National Guard officers go overboard when dealing with protesters angered by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. “General Milley told me to ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights,” his statement reads. Milley has apologized for his presence at what became the Trump appearance, saying it “created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”