Tear Gas Versus Pepper Spray

Tear Gas Versus Pepper Spray

Or pepper gas.

So, AG Barr and Pres. Trump (and also the commander of the US Park Police, I think) have been hotly denying that tear gas was used last Monday June 1  in the attack by the Praetorian Guard on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square.  Various of them have also been claiming that as many as three warnings were issued to the crowd before they attacked and also have claimed that the protesters were throwing things at them and hus were violent rioters.  The latter claims have been denied by nearly all observers, including journalists, although it may have been that perfunctory warnings were issued very quietly so that almost nobody could hear them and that maybe one bottle got thrown.  Barr has also denied giving the order for this attack, laying it on the Park Police chief, and also denied that it had anything to do with Trump walking across the square a few minutes after the protesters were cleared to have his photo op at St. John’s Church with an upside-down backwards Bible, after church personnel were forced off their own church grounds by the attack.  All of this has turned into a massive embarrassment as polls on this have turned sharply against Trump, and the National Guard from 11 states are now being removed from Washington, if not the still non-IDed Praetorian Guard Barr oversees himself.

Then we have the matter of tear gas, with protesters clearly crying and coughing and exhibiting symptoms usually associated with being tear gassed as they fled the square, and with most of them claiming to have been “tear gassed.”  This has been roundly denied by the three parties identified above.  Instead it has been admitted that “pepper balls” were thrown into the crowd, along with rubber bullets being used and flash-bang grenades.  While both Barr and Trump have both since claimed that these “pepper balls” are not “eye irritants,” clearly they are, and a variety of expert sources have reported that they are.

I shall add here my own personal observation, perhaps not relevant due to the passage of time and a basic lack of substantial knowledge on my part.  However, half a century ago when I was involved in various protests while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, most of them anti-Vietnam War, but some on other mostly racial issues as well, such as after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., I accumulated along with others some experience with being on the receiving end of several different “gases.”  In particular we at times thought that we were being tear gassed while at other times it was claimed that we were being “pepper gassed.”  Now I do not know what the relation is, if any,between that long ago “pepper gas” and these “pepper balls” used last Monday in Washington, but back then we viewed that “pepper gas” as being more painful and unpleasant than what we identified as being mere “tear gas.”  I can also attest that such was used as I had to clean “pepper” off my shower walls in the apartment I was in near campus after such an attack.

So, bottom line, if today’s “pepper balls” are anything like the “pepper spray” used in Madison  way back then, then this stuff is actually worse than conventional tear gas and bragging about using it rather than “tear gas” may well be a farce that is not remotely funny.

Barkley Rosser