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SEMANTIC BATTLE: The U.S. Park Police on Friday hedged its earlier claims that it did not use tear gas to clear crowds near the White House on Monday, telling Vox earlier statements were a “mistake” given that the chemical agents they used cause similar eye and lung irritation.
A Tuesday statement from Park Police said it used “smoke canisters and pepper balls” to clear “violent” protests in the area, counter to multiple reports that peaceful demonstrators were met with tear gas.
“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 original Park Police statement ignited 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention includes pepper spray and pepper balls under the category of a “riot control agent,” something it defines as “chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.”
“The point is we admitted to using what we used,” Delgado said.
“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.
An updated statement on the Park Police website posted Wednesday still claims that “officers and other assisting law enforcement partners did not use tear gas or OC Skat Shells to close the area at Lafayette Park.”
There has been a growing demand from Democratic lawmakers for the Department of the Interior, which oversees Park Police, to explain the use of chemical force and defend the aggressive clearing of protesters before Washington, D.C.’s curfew for the night had begun.
The move came just minutes before President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate’s racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE walked through the area to visit a church that had been vandalized the night before.
A letter obtained by The Hill shows Interior Secretary David Bernhardt requested assistance from the D.C. National Guard to quell protests,…
Read More: Overnight Energy: US Park Police say ‘tear gas’ statements were ‘mistake’ | Trump to