US Park Police Say It Was Mistake To Say Tear Gas Wasn’t Used On DC Protesters
According to The Hill, the US Park Police “hedged its earlier claims [that] it did not use tear gas to clear crowds near the White House,” and stated that earlier statements were a “mistake.”
- A Tuesday statement from Park Police said that it used “smoke canisters and pepper balls” to clear “violent” protests in the area.
- The statement was “counter to multiple reports that peaceful demonstrators were met with tear gas,” reported The Hill.
“I’m not going to say that pepper balls don’t irritate you,” Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado told Vox, noting they contain an irritant derived from pepper plants. “I’m not saying it’s not a tear gas, but I’m just saying we use a pepper ball that shoots a powder.”
- The statements sparked a “semantic battle over chemical agents amid a broader discussion over whether the use of force was necessary as protestors demonstrated in Lafayette Square following George Floyd's death,” the report added.
“The point is we admitted to using what we used,” Delgado continued.“I think the term ‘tear gas’ doesn’t even matter anymore. It was a mistake on our part for using ‘tear gas’ because we just assumed people would think CS or CN,” he said, using abbreviations for other forms of tear gas.
- However, an updated statement issued on Friday only reiterated its earlier claims, despite social media posts that show the federal police did, in fact, use tear gas. The agency’s statement read, "USPP officers and other assisting law enforcement partners did not use tear gas or OC Skat Shells to close the area at Lafayette Park on Monday, June 1.”
Democratic lawmakers have demanded that the Department of the Interior, which oversees Park Police, explain their use of chemical force and “aggressive clearing of protesters,” according to The Hill.
- The forceful clearing of peaceful protesters in Washington, DC, was meant to clear the area so that President Trump could cross the street to visit a church that had been vandalized the night before.
- Interior Secretary David Bernhardt requested assistance from the DC National Guard “to quell protests, specifically saying they would be armed with ‘appropriate chemical munitions,’” The Hill reported.
“It is unacceptable to prioritize clearing the way for the photo opportunity for the president over allowing a peaceful, legal demonstration,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) wrote to Bernhardt on Thursday.