The Pentagon reportedly ordered National Guard helicopters to maintain a “persistent presence” in Washington, D.C. this week as protests over the death of George Floyd continued, resulting in the dangerously low fly-bys that sparked outrage from human rights groups. Two helicopters flew low enough over crowds the night of June 1 to blast them with wind and engulf them in noise, a practice known as “buzzing” and most often reserved for war zones. According to The New York Times, military officials said the aggressive maneuver stemmed from a Pentagon threat to send in active-duty military units if the Guard could not control the crowds.
Ryan McCarthy, the U.S. Secretary of the Army, said the Army has opened an investigation into the show of force. McCarthy was one of the officials who helped formulate and authorize the response. The pilots of the two helicopters have been grounded pending the results of the inquiry, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked the president to remove federal forces from the streets of the city.