Four months later, still no answers about the low-flying helicopters over DC protests

Elizabeth Howe
October 13, 2020 - 2:28 pm
DC National Guard Helicopters

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More than four months after Washington, D.C. National Guard helicopters "rotor washed" protestors, the resulting investigation still has not been released. 

During one of the earliest days of protests following the murder of George Floyd, helicopters with D.C. National Guard were reportedly ordered by Trump administration officials to fly low over protestors to display a "show of force." Within hours of public reporting on the incident, including multiple videos, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper ordered an investigation.

That investigation was launched on June 3 and results still have not been released.

Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said during a briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday that the Army completed its portion of the investigation and it's the DoD Inspectors General's office holding up the release of the results. 

"The DoD IG reviews these in these cases. It's currently with the DoD IG and, to my understanding, it will be released when its completed," McCarthy said. He declined to provide further details such as whether or not any efforts were being made to withhold the results until after the election. 

By mid-June, lawmakers were calling for the investigation to be expedited. 

“I am outraged that this administration would try to intimidate peaceful protesters exercising their First Amendment rights by battering them with rotor wash and flying debris from military helicopters hovering at dangerously low altitudes," Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., on June 18.

That week, Duckworth sent letters to the DoD and the Federal Aviation Administration requesting an update on the investigation. At the time, she said she expected answers by June 30. 

Now, with the investigation in the IG's hands, McCarthy says releasing the results is not his decision. 

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Reach Elizabeth Howe on Twitter @ECBHowe.

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