U.S. Park Police in the nation’s capitol are denying that they used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters so the president could take a photo-op Monday evening. In a statement, the D.C. Park Police force insisted cops used “smoke canisters and pepper balls. No tear gas was used.”
On Wednesday, Trump joined Fox News personality Brian Kilmeade on his radio show and defended the police, claiming they didn’t use tear gas.
“They didn’t use tear gas,” he said. “I didn’t say move them out. I didn’t know who was there. Most loved it, why wouldn't they?”
However, Australian reporter Amber Brace, who was shoved and hit during the incident Monday, says it sure felt that tear gas hit her.
“We tried to run away, another officer hit me,” she said on her network Channel 7. “That’s when we ran into a wall of tear gas so at that stage we were struggling on a number of fronts.”
The CDC describes tear gas as any “riot controlled agent.” Whether it was tear gas or smoke, it hung in the air as the president made his way to St. John’s Church and reporters with Trump say it “stung their eyes.” Some were heard coughing.
Tear gas was used in Charlotte, NC, Tuesday night amid the protests to disperse marches and now doctors are warning that its use could spread coronavirus due to the coughing fits that result in the aftermath.
Trump is continuing to face criticism as he threatens to send troops into American cities. The former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, denounced the president.
In an op-ed published in The Atlantic on Tuesday, he wrote, “Whatever Trump's goal in conducting his visit, he laid bare his disdain for the rights of peaceful protest in this country, gave succor to the leaders of other countries who take comfort in our domestic strife, and risked further politicizing the men and women of our armed forces.”
The president also denied that the photo-op Monday evening was staged because he was being ridiculed for hiding out in the White House bunker last Friday when he spoke to Kilmeade.
“It was a false report,” he claimed. “I wasn’t down. I went down during the day, and I was there for a tiny little short period of time. It was much more of an inspection.”