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Source Says Only Smoke Canisters, Not Tear Gas, Used On Protestors Before Trump’s Arrival At Burned Church

“My source was on the scene, got a dose of smoke, but didn’t feel the irritants of tear gas,” reports WTOP’s Neil Augenstein.


President Trump’s visit to St. John’s Episcopal Church last night was met with heavy social media backlash after reports by many news outlets were publicized suggesting that peaceful protestors were forced from the area using tear gas. According to reporting by Neil Augenstein for WTOPnews, however, there were only smoke canisters.

“A source says tear gas was never used — instead smoke cannisters were deployed, which don’t have an uncomfortable irritant in them,” tweeted Augenstein. “And, the source says Park Police didn’t know President Trump would be walking across the park several minutes later.”

Augenstein says the source also suggested that the crowd began to grow rowdy even before the president’s arrival, which is why police used force.

“…the reason the crowd was disbursed with smoke cannisters [sic] 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,” he continued in the Twitter thread.

Although he acknowledges the fact that tear gas could have been used on the protestors by groups other than the Park Police, Augenstein points out the fact that the media continued to perpetuate and spread a narrative about tear gas that may not have been entirely true.

“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. Clearly, the phrase “tear gas” has been used widely in the reporting…,” Augenstein states.

According to WTOP, the use of force against DC protestors was not limited to the area Trump visited, but was widely enforced across the city.

“Police used smoke canisters, rubber bullets and low-flying helicopters to break up the marchers as the city imposed a curfew to tamp down any potential violence and vandalism,” said an article published early Tuesday morning.