Trump Said No Tear Gas Used to Clear Protesters for Photo Op. These Canisters Suggest Otherwise.

Roberto Schmidt/Getty
Roberto Schmidt/Getty

You really can believe your own eyes.

A reporter from the Washington, D.C. TV station WUSA 9 shared images on Twitter of tear gas canisters he and a colleague collected near the White House on Monday—contradicting claims from the White House and U.S. Park Police that authorities did not deploy the weapon against peaceful protesters to clear the way for President Donald Trump’s photo-op.

The photographs show spent CM Spede Heat CS and CM Skat Shell OC short-range rounds, both produced by the firm Defense Technology “as a crowd management tool for the rapid and broad deployment of chemical agent,” as described on the company’s website. While “OC” stands for oleoresin capsicum, a chile-pepper-derived substance, “CS” is an industry abbreviation for 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile—the key ingredient in tear gas.

The effects, according to the vendor: “burning sensation, heavy flow of tears, involuntary closing of eyes.”

Trump, White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, and right-wing media have bitterly denied that tear gas was used to clear anti-racism demonstrators from Lafayette Park so Trump could walk to St. John’s Episcopal Church. Trump posed with a Bible in front of the historic structure, which sustained minor fire damage the night before, after a speech in which he threatened to place U.S. troops on the streets of cities across the country to quash unrest.

Park Police in Washington have said they deployed Pepperballs, a different brand of eye-watering munition, and used irritant-free “smoke canisters” on Monday. But WUSA 9’s discovery backs up the experiences and observations of eyewitnesses who said they were sure tear gas was in the air.

“I was literally helping wipe away tears in people’s eyes and tried to tend to them and help them on the grounds and suddenly the police were pushing us back,” former St. John’s rector Rev. Gini Gerbasi told CNN on Tuesday.

The White House declined a request for comment on WUSA’s report. The Park Police maintained it does not carry the CM Skat Shell OC canisters. A spokesman was not immediately able to say whether the agency had any stockpile of CM Spede Heat CS devices.

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