Lawmakers ask why US government drone monitored Minneapolis protests
House Democrats are pressing the Department of Homeland Security to explain why it used a drone typically deployed to monitor the border for criminal activity to surveil protesters at a George Floyd rally in Minneapolis.
The lawmakers led by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, seek a reply from acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf by Thursday on why the Predator B drone monitored the rallies on May 29.
The letter, sent June 5, said the drone was flown outside the boundaries of Customs and Border Protection’s area of jurisdiction, 100 miles inland from the country’s border.
“The deployment of drones and officers to surveil protests is a gross abuse of authority and is particularly chilling when used against Americans who are protesting law enforcement brutality,” the letter says. The lawmakers want to know where DHS conducted surveillance on protests since the death of Floyd on May 25.
They also seek information on who requested use of the drone, whether DHS was reimbursed by states or cities for conducting the surveillance, as well as whether data was recorded and, if so, how it will be used and whom it will be shared with.
Protests erupted nationwide following Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officials.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, has been charged with second-degree murder.
Three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.