The U.S. Park Police acknowledged that its officers used smoke and irritating pepper agents to clear protesters outside the White House on Monday before President Donald Trump walked to a historic church that was damaged by arson.

The police agency denied in a statement on Tuesday that it used “tear gas” to disperse the protesters, who it claimed — in contradiction to news coverage of the event — had attacked its officers. “Tear gas” is a colloquial term used to describe a variety of irritating crowd-control agents, including pepper spray…

Witnesses in the park on Monday, including journalists covering the protests, described the demonstrators as peaceful and said police used rubber bullets, tear gas and flash-bang devices to clear them before Trump walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church on the north side of the square.