Sunday 7 June 2020

Police Spokesperson Suggests They Shouldn’t Have Said No Tear Gas Was Used. Police Chief Seems To Disagree.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Park Police department told Vox in an interview that they shouldn’t have denied using tear gas in a statement earlier this week because it has detracted from the department’s public acknowledgement that they used smoke canisters and pepper balls. A riot-control projectile similar to pepper spray, pepper balls were deployed at a reportedly peaceful protest near the White House on Monday ahead of President Trump’s visit to St. John’s Church, which was partially burned by rioters over the weekend.
“The point is we admitted to using what we used,” Sgt. Eduardo Delgado told the news agency. “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.”
According to Scientific American, CS and CN refer to two irritants that activate different pain receptors than pepper spray. However, the Centers for Disease Control notes that pepper spray is considered a riot-control agent and can be referred to as tear gas.
Thomas Kearney, a professor at the UCSF Department of Pharmacology who co-authored a 2014 study on pepper spray injuries, told Fact Check in response to a previous statement from Park Police that “Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) is the active ingredient of peppers and activates the TRPV1 pain receptor. Whereas CS & CN have different receptors and were more toxic.”
After Vox published the statement from the police spokesperson, Park Police acting chief Gregory Monahan seemed to disagree with the spokesperson’s assessment, and released the following statement: “United States Park Police officers and other assisting law enforcement partners did not use tear gas or OC Skat Shells to close the area at Lafayette Park in response to violent protestors.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Park Police revealed that on Monday they used pepper balls and smoke canisters in an area near the White House, where a mixture of protests, unrest, and rioting took place over the weekend. Video of the event captured by Reuters on Tuesday shows that the protestors seem to be largely peaceful – that said, about a minute after the officers begin to move the crowd down the street, multiple items, including apparent water bottles, are seen being thrown toward police.
It’s not clear whether the water bottles briefly shown in the Reuters video are the same water bottles referred to in the department’s Tuesday statement describing projectiles, including frozen water bottles and bricks. In the original statement, the police department described the scene as follows:
“On Monday, June 1, the USPP worked with the United States Secret Service to have temporary fencing installed inside Lafayette Park. At approximately 6:33 pm, violent protestors on H Street NW began throwing projectiles including bricks, frozen water bottles and caustic liquids. The protestors also climbed onto a historic building at the north end of Lafayette Park that was destroyed by arson days prior. Intelligence had revealed calls for violence against the police, and officers found caches of glass bottles, baseball bats and metal poles hidden along the street,” said the statement.
“To curtail the violence that was underway, the USPP, following established policy, issued three warnings over a loudspeaker to alert demonstrators on H Street to evacuate the area. Horse mounted patrol, Civil Disturbance Units and additional personnel were used to clear the area. As many of the protestors became more combative, continued to throw projectiles, and attempted to grab officers’ weapons, officers then employed the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls. USPP officers and other assisting law enforcement partners did not use tear gas or OC Skat Shells to close the area at Lafayette Park,” said the statement.

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