Media Makes 3 False Claims That Tear Gas Was Used On Peaceful Protesters for Trump Church Visit

A good rule of thumb is that the media lies. It often does this by accepting false narratives and rebroadcasting them without checking the facts. (The media's vaunted fact checking is targeted externally, most often at conservatives or other political dissenters, but rarely fellow media.)

Here's a typical fake news headline.

Peaceful Protesters Tear-Gassed To Clear Way For Trump Church Photo-Op - NPR

The reality? Nope.

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.

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.

Facts? Who cares about facts.

But on Tuesday morning, Park Police sources told WTOP that this was not the case, arguing that the protesters were not all peaceful, that tear gas was not used, and that officers did not know of Trump’s visit to the house of worship.

A source says tear gas was never used — instead smoke cannisters 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.

The outlet went on to report that the crowd was pushed back when officers were being hit with water bottles and that protesters had climbed onto the top of a structure at the north end of Lafayette Square that had been attacked and burned a day earlier.”

So no tear gas, Trump visit, or peaceful protesters. 

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