Low-Flying Military Helicopters Used to Disperse George Floyd Protesters in Washington, D.C.

Military helicopters, including a Black Hawk helicopter, reportedly flew low over demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. on Monday night.

Videos shared on social media indicate the helicopters were flying just above low-level buildings, creating intense winds and causing trees to sway.

New York Times reporter Zolan Kanno-Youngs tweeted that military helicopters were hovering over protesters, sending gusts of dust into the air. "A part of a tree fell, nearly hitting passerbys," he said.

Around 10 minutes later, an additional helicopter was reported to have flown over protesters, according to Kanno-Youngs.

"These are Lakota helicopters performing what's known as a show of force, which is often conducted by low-flying jets in combat zones to scare away insurgents. A Black Hawk performed the maneuver minutes later," he tweeted.

As protesters made their way into Chinatown, military helicopters were positioned just above rooftops, sending gusts of dust into the air. A part of a tree fell, nearly hitting passerbys. The crowds dispersed down side streets. Some storefronts were shattered. #DCProtest.

— Zolan Kanno-Youngs (@KannoYoungs) June 2, 2020

NBC4 reporter Jackie Bensen reported the helicopters "seem to be using downdraft in attempt to disperse protestors walking peacefully near DC Superior Court," in a post on her official Twitter account.

Washington, D.C. was placed under a curfew on Monday evening by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. The curfew began at 7 p.m. local time Monday and continues through 6 a.m. local time Tuesday. The curfew continues from Tuesday 7 p.m. local time to 6 a.m. local time Wednesday. Essential workers, health care personnel and members of the media with the appropriate credentials are exempt from the curfew, the mayor's office confirmed.

Bensen also reported seeing arrests that appeared to be for curfew violations.

New: military Blackhawk helicopters seem to be using downdraft in attempt to disperse protestors walking peacefully near DC Superior Court. Seeing arrests that appear to be for curfew violations ⁦@nbcwashingtonpic.twitter.com/Rfh2wDeTmN

— Jackie Bensen (@jackiebensen) June 2, 2020

Newsweek has contacted the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and District of Columbia National Guard for comment.

The latest incident follows days of protests across the capital, where fires were sparked near the White House, including at St. John's Church, an official U.S. National Historic Landmark built in 1815.

On Monday evening, President Donald Trump outlined a strategy to take military action against looters and rioters protesting against the death of Floyd, who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

On Sunday, police were reported to have fired tear gas at protesters in the capital, while more tear gas was fired just hundreds of yards away as Trump spoke on Monday evening.

Members of the National Guard have been deployed in 15 states and Washington, D.C. At least 4,400 people have been arrested so far following the days of protests, according to the Associated Press.

Washington, D.C., George Floyd protest, helicopter
Protesters look up as a military helicopter flies low, pushing air down onto the crowd during a protest over the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Getty Images