A US park police spokesman said in an interview that it was a “mistake” to insist in a statement Tuesday that it had not used tear gas in Lafayette Square the day before to disperse a crowd for President Trump’s photo , explicitly noting that peppercorns shot by officials irritate the eyes and cause tears.
“The point is, we admitted we used what we used,” said Sgt. Eduardo 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 simply assumed that people would think CS or CN, two common forms of tear gas.
Delgado’s call to me Friday was an attempt to clear up a statement released by park police on Tuesday, the day after reporters on the scene in front of the White House said officers were using tear gas on peaceful protesters. Acting Chief Gregory Monahan’s Statement said that tear gas was not used by any federal force present, but that the park police themselves “used smoke cans and peppercorns.”
“I’m not going to say that pepperballs don’t irritate you,” Delgado said, noting that they contain Bell pepper, an irritant from pepper plants. “I’m not saying it’s not tear gas, I’m just saying we’re using a peppercorn that shoots powder.”
The response itself became a national controversy, with experts in police tactics calling the distinction semantic. “Tear gas” is a broad term, often defined as a synthetic chemical irritant. Pepper spray is a naturally derived chemical irritant that produces many effects similar to those of common tear gas types, including temporary blindness and a burning sensation in the nose.
On Friday, Delgado claimed that their original statement was accurate regarding the park police: “No tear gas was used by USPP officers.” The U.S. Park Police only used those non-lethal weapons, as law enforcement forcefully drove peaceful protesters away from the White House. He even said – as he did earlier – that his agency doesn’t carry tear gases known as CN, though They were all found on the scene with glances. As for CS, the agency doesn’t have the specific type found in the square, but it does carry CS in general.
Delgado was unable to comment on whether other federal agencies, such as the Secret Service, used tear gas in the protest. All agencies All law enforcement agencies involved in the violent spreadhave refused to release tear gas, however.
One reason the park police felt it was right to say that tear gas was not used in its Tuesday statement, per Delgado, is because they only referred to the employment of CN and CS gases, which center for disease control and prevention lists the “most common” forms of tear gas. The CDC, which also uses the term “tear gas riot control agent,” does say that “pepper spray” is considered a “riot control agent.”
Anna Feigenbaum, author of the book Tear Gas: From the Battlefields of World War I to the Streets of Today, Jen Kirby of Vox told Wednesday: “You can have” gases “in different forms. It can be liquid, it can be powder. ‘
“It was kind of a mistake on our part, but didn’t say ‘we didn’t use CN or CS, we used smoke and pepper balls’ in the first place, and that would have made it a moot point,” Delgado said. that we deliberately tried to mislead us by saying that we did not use tear gas, but pepper balls… That was not our intention. “
The goal was to be ‘transparent’ about what the park police used, he continued. “Everyone got on the line,” Well, isn’t it a pepper bullet tear gas? “
“If we had shot CS or CN, any [Park Police] officer there would have had a gas mask, ” said Delgado, who was present on Monday during the forced dispersal. “But what you saw were very few agents with gas masks running through the quote-not-quote tear gas with no effect. That would be impossible if that were CS or CN and you had no protection. ‘
“I went through the stuff. You would see officers and civilians crawling, everything out of their sinuses that would flow on their shirts and on the floor, people helping each other walk because you can’t see,” Delgado noted.
All told, Delgado – on behalf of the US Park Police – admitted that the agency was flawed with its emphatic Monday statement that the Trump campaign to demand withdrawals from reporters, including me.