Buzzfeed News reporters obtained the explanation offered by United States Department of Homeland Security's CBP to congressional staffers who asked why it decided to fly a Predator Drone over Minneapolis during the protests over the killing of George Floyd.
The drone flown over Minneapolis today is reported to be an unarmed version of the unmanned Predator aircraft.
Minneapolis could also be subject to surveillance at the federal level as the protests unfold. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) flew a Predator drone over the city on Friday, according to Jason Paladino, an investigative reporter at the Project on Government Oversight.
In a statement given to congressional staffers on Friday that was obtained by BuzzFeed News, CBP officials said the agency's Air and Marine Operations was "preparing to provide live video to aid in situational awareness at the request of our federal law enforcement partners in Minneapolis." The agency said drones are often deployed around the country to "augment law enforcement and humanitarian relief efforts."
"After arriving into the Minneapolis airspace, the requesting agency determined that the aircraft was no longer needed for operational awareness and departed back to Grand Forks," the statement read.
Scary times. Read more:
[ Caroline Haskins, Ryan Mac, Hamed Aleaziz, May 29, 2020, at 6:02 p.m. ET, IMAGE: US Air Force, public domain ]
More from observers and reporters on Twitter, below.
correction: the Customs and Border Protection Predator B drone that flew over Minneapolis today actually appears to have been outside of the 100 air mile zone where CBP craft are allowed to operate. this makes it even more questionable https://t.co/BiCmENJzAk
— lvl 45 covid potus (@thetomzone) May 29, 2020
— Joshua Rodriguez (@Joshuajered) May 29, 2020
#breaking Federal officials confirm a CPB Predator Drone was dispatched from Grand Forks AFB for a surveillance mission over Minneapolis. At some point the drone was called back. Drone was not armed. This as ex MPD officer Chauvin was arrested #DerekChauvin #GeorgeFloydprotest pic.twitter.com/7TvjVZfTgJ
— Matt Gutman (@mattgutmanABC) May 29, 2020
Some context on the Predator drone over Minneapolis: "Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are increasingly borrowing border-patrol drones for domestic surveillance operations" https://t.co/Teh39W9SAR pic.twitter.com/05a0FpxzYK
— Patrick Howell O'Neill (@HowellONeill) May 29, 2020