U.S. Army Black Hawk and Lakota helicopters appeared to kick up dirt and debris as crowds were out defying the city’s 7 p.m. curfew, allegedly coming low enough to reportedly rip branches from trees. Storefronts were reportedly shattered.
The protesters were captured in multiple videos posted to Twitter looking up at the maneuver known as show of force. It’s normally conducted by low-flying jets in combat zones to frighten the enemy, according to the New York Times.
The crowds at one point dispersed into the surrounding blocks before one of the helicopters returned for another pass.
D.C. is a jurisdiction that can deploy the U.S. military without needing approval from a governor, the paper reported. Tensions have risen in the nation’s capital in recent days following the death of George Floyd in police custody on May 25.
Earlier on Monday, law enforcement deployed tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square before President Trump walked through the area to visit St. John’s Church, which had caught on fire during last night’s demonstrations.
The reported utilization of low flying helicopters comes as Trump gave a statement in the Rose Garden that he is taking “immediate action” to mobilize “all available federal resources” to stop riots and looting across the country. He also threatened to deploy the military if states don’t send in the National Guard to the protests.
A military police unit was also deployed in the capital and was estimated to number between 200 to 500 troops from Fort Bragg, N.C, according to the New York Times.
Fox News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report