Earlier this month, the FBI released footage of the protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray filmed from the Bureau’s surveillance aircraft.
While the FBI spy planes were called in to help police deal with the violent riots which broke out in Baltimore, the FBI also recorded hours of footage of peaceful daytime protests which took place before curfew.
Although the protesters were out in public and could expect to be filmed, they likely didn’t anticipate being filmed by FBI surveillance planes. As an ACLU attorney told BuzzFeed news, when the FBI is recording hours of peaceful protests, “you really run the risk of chilling the right to protest.”
That chilling effect may be increased by the fact that some of these aircraft carry devices which can track cell phones, although the FBI states that it did not use this technology while monitoring the Freddie Gray protests.
The use of surveillance aircraft is quite widespread, and used in a number of different types of investigations. If you live in a large city, you may well have walked through an area that’s been watched by a spy plane.
What do you think? If you knew you would be monitored and recorded by the FBI, would you still protest?