DC Guard to investigate helicopter maneuvers to show force

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Demonstrators pause to kneel as they march to protest the death of George Floyd, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. Floyd died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON – The National Guard of the District of Columbia is investigating the use of one of its helicopters to make a “show of force” against protesters near the White House, while President Donald Trump is encouraging authorities to get tougher to quell the unrest over George Floyd's death.

The helicopter, normally designated for use in medical evacuations, hovered low enough to create a deafening noise and spray protesters with rotor wash on Monday. The commanding general of the D.C. Guard, Maj. Gen. William Walker, said in a statement Wednesday that he directed the investigation, and officials

The investigation comes as the federal government has promised to maximize its law enforcement presence in the nation's capital. Scores of heavily-armed federal officers in tactical gear have been on the district's streets for days, after demonstrators set fires, broke store windows and stole items from the shelves and left police officers injured.

The Trump administration has made an effort to show a use of force in Washington. Hours before a 7 p.m. curfew on Tuesday, cars were being stopped at military checkpoints downtown, and a cavalry of armored military vehicles could be seen driving through the district.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the administration had floated the idea of taking over the Metropolitan Police Department, a proposal she strongly rejected. She threatened to take legal action if the federal government attempted to do so.

Two Defense Department officials said the administration had ordered military aircraft to fly above Washington on Monday night as a “show of force” against demonstrators. They were protesting the death of Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air. Police made over 300 arrests, mainly for violating the district’s curfew.

Earlier Monday evening, law enforcement officers on foot and horseback moved aggressively to clear protesters away from Lafayette Park near the White House before President Donald Trump walked to a nearby church for a photo opportunity.

After participating in the show of force, Arlington County in Virginia pulled out its officers, saying they were used “for a purpose not worthy of our mutual aid obligations.” County officials said in a statement their officers never wielded their batons and did not fire rubber bullets or tear gas.