Low-flying military helicopters used a wind-blowing tactic to break up crowds in Washington, DC, on Monday night as protests over racial injustice and police brutality continued past city-wide curfew.
Videos posted online by New York Times reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs shows a military helicopter hovering at a low-altitude above protesters in Washington, D.C.
The ‘show of force’ tactic, often conducted with low flying jets in combat zones to scare away insurgents, proved relatively successful in this case as many people ran for cover.
In the video you can see U.S. Army UH-72 Lakota helicopters, as well as UH-60 Black Hawks, one possibly belonging to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have been flying extremely low-level show-of-force maneuvers over areas of Washington, D.C. in obvious attempts to try to disperse groups protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week.
Several Twitter users pointed out how dangerous the choppers’ maneuvers were as they parked over groups of people at the same level as rooftops.
Some noted that flying at such a low altitude was likely illegal as it undeniably violated Federal Aviation Administration rules.
Some of the helicopters have held a hover right over groups of people, hitting them with their rotor wash and the deafening sound of their rotors and engines.
This comes after President Donald Trump announced he had ordered hardline measures against protesters and rioters in the nation’s capital, including the deployment of additional national guardsmen, federal troops, and federal law enforcement officers.
It also seems bizarrely dangerous. If something were to have happened to the helicopter, it could have quickly fallen into the crowd, offering them little chance to get out of the way. The risk of rotor wash sending debris flying either into the helicopter or toward people on the ground is another risk from this kind of flight profile, especially in a dense urban environment. There is no surveillance value added by hovering at that low of an altitude, quite the contrary actually.
While Trump made the announcement from the Rose Garden, loud bangs rang out in the distance as police attempted to remove protesters from Lafayette Park.
Monday marked the seventh day of unrest in cities across the US following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis cop knelt on his neck during an arrest on Memorial Day.
While many of the demonstrations around the country have been peaceful protests by racially diverse crowds, others have descended into violence – despite curfews in many cities across the US and the deployment of thousands of National Guard members over the past week.