Major William J. Walker, District of Columbia National Guard Commanding General, announced that he has ordered an investigation into the controversial low-flying maneuver of multiple helicopters over a protesting crowd in Northwest Washington.
During the District’s night curfew that started at 7 pm on Monday, June 1, at least two helicopters were spotted flying unusually close to the ground, while the police were disproportionately intervening in the protests.
Witnesses recorded videos of the helicopters, one of which was a UH-72 Lakota bearing Red Cross markings and using its rotor wash to push down air to disperse the demonstrators.
The helicopters were reportedly operating 12 stories high, which is approximately 130 feet. The move was widely criticized on social media as a “show of force.”
The military is using black hawk helicopters to dispersd in DC right now flying lower than building height of 12 stories pic.twitter.com/RMa9LIh8t4
— Anna (@anabananaaaah) June 2, 2020
“Our highest priority is the safety of our Citizen Soldiers and Airmen who support civil authorities as they perform their duties. This is our home, and we are dedicated to the safety and security of our fellow citizens of the District and their right to safely and peacefully protest,” Gen. Walker’s office told the media in a statement about the incident.
The National Guard has been helping local police forces with efforts of quelling widespread protests in DC sparked by the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis last week.