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A U.S. Park Police spokesperson told Vox it was a "mistake" to say in a Tuesday statement that tear gas was not used the day prior to clear protesters from Lafayette Square ahead of President Trump's photo op at St. John's Episcopal Church.
The big picture: Sgt. Eduardo Delgado described the mistake as a difference in semantics. The department — as it claimed in its statement — only used "smoke canisters and pepper balls," which, he conceded, can cause tears and irritate eyes.
- Delgado maintained that the U.S. Park Police statement denying the use of tear gas was accurate, noting they did not use tear gas. But he acknowledged that saying the substance was not used could appear to be misleading.
- "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," Delgado said, referring to two common forms of tear gas.
- "It was kind of a fault on our part just not saying in the first place 'we did not use CN or CS, we used smoke and pepper balls,' and that would've made it a moot point," Delgado said.
Be smart: The term "tear gas" used to broadly mean a synthetic chemical irritant, Vox notes.