Fox’s Neil Cavuto seemed unimpressed when Interior Secretary David Bernhardt insisted that peaceful protesters at Lafayette Square had not been tear gassed, “only” pepper sprayed to make way for Donald Trump’s Bible photo op in front of St. John’s church.
Bernhardt visited Cavuto’s Your World show today, mostly to discuss penalties for destroying statues. But at about 3:30, Cavuto asked about the night Trump walked over to St. John’s and held aloft, like a trophy, an upside-down Bible.
“Clearing a crowd is one thing, I understand that,” Cavuto said, “but using tear gas or other means to clear that crowd, who makes that call?"
"Let me be very clear, the Park Police did not use tear gas,” Bernhardt replied. “I have not been informed that any shape of tear gas was used by the U.S. Park Police."
"Then what did they use?" Cavuto pressed.
"They used some smoke, they used some pepper spray. They did not use tear gas. CS gas absolutely did not be used," Bernhardt insisted. "That is a misstatement."
But tear gas is not just CS gas; it can also be pepper spray, as Mother Jones explains:
“Tear gas,” an umbrella term for about a half-dozen so-called “riot-control agents” or “less lethal” chemical weapons, most often refers to CS gas, a powerful irritant devised by two Middlebury College researchers in the 1920s.
But it can also refer to OC, or oleoresin capsicum, an ultra-concentrated form of the compound in hot peppers mixed with carriers that make it stick to your skin and lungs more easily. Both cause tears, and both, in quantity, do a permanent number on lungs and nerves.
The distinction only matters if you’re treating medical damage or covering your ass; the Centers for Disease Control calls every such chemical “tear gas,” including CS, OC, and others. But for police, “pepper balls”—dense projectiles containing OC, which the Park Police insist they used—are very convenient. They can be fired again and again from a gun. They hurt. (In fact, they hurt worse than CS gas.)
Cavuto sounded dubious. “So pepper spray maybe, tear gas, no,” he responded.
“Absolutely,” Bernhardt insisted.
We call BS.
You can watch it below, from the June 25, 2020 Your World.