U.S. Park Police have told reporters they did not use tear gas in LaFayette Square last night ahead of the President’s walk to St. John’s Church. Instead, police officers used smoke canisters to disperse protesters who were hurling bottles at them.
The news – from Park Police themselves – renders virtually every mainstream media organization and Twitter verified user guilty of spreading misinformation.
WTOP’s Neil Augenstein reported this morning: “U.S. Park Police is explaining its decision-making in clearing Lafayette Square, at least 20 minutes before DC’s 7p curfew, on night 4 of protests. A source says tear gas was never used — instead smoke cannisters [sic] were deployed, which don’t have an uncomfortable irritant in them.
“And, the source says Park Police didn’t know President Trump would be walking across the park several minutes later. Park Police say the reason the crowd was disbursed with smoke cannisters is that at that moment, officers were being pelted with water bottles. Another factor was that protesters had climbed on top of the structure at the north end of Lafayette Square that had been burned the day before.”
Adding to this, Augenstein said: “In theory it’s possible another agency used tear gas, in addition to Park Police using smoke cannisters [sic], but my source was on the scene, got a dose of smoke, but didn’t feel the irritants of tear gas.”
First on WTOP: U.S. Park Police is explaining its decision-making in clearing Lafayette Square, at least 20 minutes before DC's 7p curfew, on night 4 of protests….
— Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) June 2, 2020
The news – the real news that is – has not yet led to changes in the establishment media’s reporting on this.
As of 11:17am, over two hours after the WTOP scoop, CNN and other news outlets continue to promote the fake news, uncaveated, about “tear gas” in LaFayette Park.
Joe Biden just repeated the LIE that tear gas was used for a photo op.
Park Police has debunked this lie. Tear gas was not used, and they dispersed because objects were being thrown at police.
Fake news straight from the media's tweets to Joe Biden's mouth. pic.twitter.com/L33b51THXS
— Andrew Clark (@AndrewHClark) June 2, 2020
The theory doesn’t even make sense on the face of it. Why would the police fire tear gas into an area the President was going to be walking into within the next few minutes?
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And if police – as they say – weren’t aware the President would be walking across… do you think the Secret Service would let the President walk into tear gas, either?
We won’t hold our breath for an apology from CNN, but we will continue to monitor this story.
UPDATE 11:40AM – WTOP reports: “DC Police Chief Peter Newsham just said the only time his agency used tear gas and pepper balls last night was later in the evening, when protesters had gotten “very aggressive” near Judiciary Square.”
UPDATE 11:59AM – WTOP reports that while Park Police didn’t use tear gas, the Secret Service has not answered questions as to whether or not they did.
Just got an answer to my question to the US Secret Service about whether the agency used tear gas: "For operational security reasons, the U.S. Secret Service does not discuss our protectees or our protective means and methods." Clearly, that didn't answer my question.
— Neal Augenstein (@AugensteinWTOP) June 2, 2020
UPDATE #3: A full statement from the U.S. Park Police follows, published Tuesday afternoon. The statement confirms: “No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park.”:
The United States Park Police (USPP) is committed to the peaceful expression of First Amendment rights. However, this past weekend’s demonstrations at Lafayette Park and across the National Mall included activities that were not part of a peaceful protest, which resulted in injuries to USPP officers in the line of duty, the destruction of public property and the defacing of memorials and monuments. During four days of demonstrations, 51 members of the USPP were injured; of those, 11 were transported to the hospital and released and three were admitted.
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Multiple agencies assisted the USPP in responding to and quelling the acts of destruction and violence over the course of the weekend in order to protect citizens and property.
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.
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. No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park. Subsequently, the fence was installed.
Throughout the demonstrations, the USPP has not made any arrests. The USPP will always support peaceful assembly but cannot tolerate violence to citizens or officers or damage to our nation’s resources that we are entrusted to protect.