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A Predator UAV was flown by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on May 29 over Minneapolis amid intense protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, an African-American man who died as result of a policeman violent conduct.
The drone was first spotted on a flight tracking tool by members of the ADS-B Exchange, a community of flight watchers who use open-source flight data to monitor America’s skies. The drone took off from the Air Force Base before making several hexagonal-shaped flyovers around Minneapolis, according to the data.
CBP confirmed it operated an unmanned aircraft over Minneapolis. “A U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations unmanned aircraft system was preparing to provide live video to aid in situational awareness at the request of our federal law enforcement partners in Minneapolis. The unmanned aircraft system provides live video feed to ground law enforcement, giving them situational awareness, maximizing public safety, while minimizing the threat to personnel and assets,” as cited by uasvision.com.
The drones in CBP’s inventory are all unarmed surveillance assets that can monitor an area for hours on end, according to businessinsider.com.
However, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Neema Singh Guliani criticized the use of “military technology to surveil protesters inside US borders”, saying it was “deeply disturbing, especially given CBP’s lack of clear and strong policies to protect privacy and constitutional rights.” “This agency’s use of drones over the city should be halted immediately.”