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Photo: US Predator Drone Circles Minneapolis Following Trump’s ‘Shooting Starts’ Tweet

© AP Photo / Kirsty WigglesworthUnmanned U.S. Predator drone. (File)
Unmanned U.S. Predator drone. (File) - Sputnik International
Publicly available flight data shows that a Predator drone belonging to US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) departed North Dakota’s Grand Forks Air Force Base on Friday and traveled around the city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, on a hexagonal flight path before leaving the state.

The ADB-S Exchange, an online, publicly available flight-tracking tool built on open-source software, revealed that an aircraft labeled “CBP104” took particular interest in Minneapolis on May 29 and hovered around the embattled city.

Investigative reporter Jason Paladino, of the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, first called attention to the seemingly unusual flight path and identified the aircraft as a MQ-1 Predator drone.

Sputnik confirmed the flight path of CBP104 was accurately depicted, according to ADB-S Exchange data.

© Sputnik ScreenshotFlight path of "CBP104" on May 29, 2020, as shown by the ADB-S Exchange.
Photo: US Predator Drone Circles Minneapolis Following Trump’s ‘Shooting Starts’ Tweet - Sputnik International
Flight path of "CBP104" on May 29, 2020, as shown by the ADB-S Exchange.

Friday evening, the CBP released a statement, noting that the drone was deployed to "provide live video to aid in situational awareness at the request of our federal law enforcement partners in Minneapolis." 

However, "[a]fter arriving into the Minneapolis airspace, the requesting agency determined that the aircraft was no longer needed for operational awareness and departed back to Grand Forks." 

The Predator drone’s trip from North Dakota to Minnesota comes after US President Donald Trump took to Twitter to announce that he would support the shooting of American citizens as a response to looting in Minneapolis.

Twitter’s decision to flag the president’s provocative tweet led him to issue another post, which called for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to be revoked.

On Thursday, US Attorney General William Barr noted that Trump’s recent executive order regarding social media companies would have no impact on Section 230, which says that "no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

Following the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd at the hands of police after a Monday arrest, protests and riots have broken out in the city. Amid lockdowns and constant media coverage, this has led to a national conversation in the US surrounding police brutality, racism and justice.

It was announced Friday afternoon that ex-Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, had been arrested and charged with third-degree murder in connection to Floyd’s death.

Though some view the arrest and charge as a step toward justice, Dr. Phil Stinson, the principal investigator for the Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database, told Sputnik on Thursday that it is possible that the Minneapolis Police Department may impede the ongoing investigation, as it reportedly did when it came to the case of Mohamed Noor.

On the state level, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called upon the National Guard to assist with protecting peaceful protesters and guarding local businesses from looters. Some have viewed the governor’s contact of the military force as a potentially fatal escalation of policing in the city.

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