Democrats in Congress want to know why drones were surveilling protesters in Detroit, other cities

click to enlarge Surveillance UAV drone flying over a residential neighborhood. - Shutterstock
Surveillance UAV drone flying over a residential neighborhood.

Democrats in Congress are demanding answers about the use of drones to surveil protesters during rallies in Minneapolis, Detroit, and other cities.

In a letter to federal law enforcement agencies, a group of 25 lawmakers, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Brenda Lawrence, called for the end of what they say is unconstitutional surveillance of law-abiding residents.

“While the job of law enforcement is to protect Americans, limited actions may be necessary if a demonstration turns violent,” the letter states. “However, this authority does not grant the agencies you lead to surveil American citizens or collect vast amounts of personal information.”

The lawmakers cited numerous news reports about federal agencies using a drone, spy planes, and other covert techniques to surveil protesters in Detroit, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Minneapolis, and San Antonio.

The letter is addressed to the FBI, DEA, Customs and Border Protection, and National Guard. None of the agencies immediately responded to Metro Times’ requests for comment.

“Americans should not have to take proactive measures to protect themselves from government surveillance before engaging in peaceful demonstration,” the letter states. “The fact that the agencies you lead have created an environment in which such headlines are common is, in and of itself, an indication of the chilling effect of government surveillance on law-abiding Americans. For these reasons, we demand you cease surveilling peaceful protests immediately and permanently.”

Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.

About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
Scroll to read more Metro Detroit News articles


Join Detroit Metro Times Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.