Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), an Iraq War veteran who lost both her legs in combat, expressed alarm on Tuesday over the federal government’s use of military helicopters to disperse protests in Washington, D.C. the night before.
Duckworth said on Twitter that she has witnessed similar scenes during her deployment in the Middle East.
“When I was in Iraq, we flew Black Hawks in the fight against Al-Qaeda to protect our troops,” said Duckworth, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. “In Donald Trump’s America, those same helicopters are being used to intimidate peaceful protesters in our own nation’s capital instead.”
When I was in Iraq, we flew Black Hawks in the fight against Al-Qaeda to protect our troops. In Donald Trump's America, those same helicopters are being used to intimidate peaceful protesters in our own nation’s capital instead. https://t.co/wLS3gE6qw6
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) June 2, 2020
The brandishing of military muscle by the federal government against protesters continued later that night with Lakota and Black Hawk helicopters flying low and intimidating crowds calling for justice in cases of police brutality that took the lives of unarmed black people, like George Floyd who died in police custody last week.
Zolan Kanno-Youngs, a homeland security reporter for the New York Times, said the aircraft maneuvers were similar to situations in war zones to scare off insurgents.
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.
— Zolan Kanno-Youngs (@KannoYoungs) June 2, 2020
On the other side of the aisle, few GOP senators have been willing to come forward to formally condemn the photo-op President Trump staged as wafts of searing tear gas sent peaceful anti-racism demonstrators and churchgoers running from Lafayette Square on Monday as Trump delivered a televised address at the White House.
Aside from remarks by Sens. Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Tim Scott (R-SC), many of the President’s Republican colleagues in the Senate either bit their tongues, made mild reproaches, pleaded ignorance or otherwise dodged reporters when tossed the question.
In other words, few Republicans have spoken out against the use of tear gas that was green-lighted by Attorney General William Barr shortly before Trump descended from his perch for a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.
WATCH: Most GOP senators avoid commenting on peaceful protesters being dispersed by tear gas outside the White House for Trump's church visit pic.twitter.com/11cPvvxktd
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 2, 2020