WASHINGTON — U.S. Park Police Acting Chief Gregory Monahan denied clearing peaceful protesters out of Lafayette Square Park to make way for the Presidential visit to St. John's Episcopal Chruch on June 1.
Monahan testified to the House Natural Resources committee with oversight of the Interior Department. He said clearing protestors before the 7 p.m. curfew set by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was to make way to build a taller fence to protect law enforcement.
"One of these injuries was sustained by a sergeant who was wearing the helmet here on the table," Monahan said during testimony. "He was struck in the helmet by a brick that was thrown at him by a violent protester. You can see the damage that occurred to the side of the helmet. That officer was later hospitalized. To this day, he has not returned to work."
The chief added that the officer was injured two nights prior. Monahan reported the only officer injury on June 1 was a cut to the face while park police cleared out protesters.
"The rules of engagement specifically prohibited the use of CS gas on June 1," Monahan testified. "We utilized pepper balls. We utilized smoke canisters, which do not have an irritant to them, and we also used Stinger Balls."
WUSA9 collected one of those Stinger Ball grenades on the street minutes after park police launched them at protesters. It is labeled as containing OC gas, a natural gas that causes tears and severe coughing.
WUSA9 also found artificial CS tear gas canisters, but video from the scene indicates another agency, seen wearing Bureau of Prisons vest logos, held the launchers capable of firing those rounds. That agency has not returned WUSA9's requests for comment.
"At no time did I feel threatened by the protesters or assessed them to be violent," testified DC National Guard Major Adam DeMarco.
DeMarco was the liaison officer between the Guard and U.S. Park Police on June 1.
"The park police liaison officer told me the explosions were stage smoke and that no tear gas was being deployed against the demonstrators, but I could feel irritation in my eyes and nose and based off my previous exposure to tear gas in training, I recognized that irritation as effects as consistent with CS or tear gas," DeMarco testified. "Later that evening I found spent tear gas canisters on the street nearby."
Rep. Jesus Garcia (D - Ill.) asked acting Chief Monahan if he was "aware that tear gas is a chemical weapon banned in war?"
"No, I am not aware of that," Monahan replied.