DC National Guard

ACLU Sues National Guard Over Low-Flying Military Helicopters During 2020 Protest

A woman who participated in racial justice protests in DC says the winds from the low-flying helicopters swept up dirt, debri and broken glass in her face

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The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman who says she was injured when the National Guard flew military helicopters over racial justice demonstrations in D.C. in 2020.

In the lawsuit against the National Guard, 25-year-old Dzhuliya Dashtamirova claims the winds from the low-flying helicopters swept up dirt, debris and broken glass in her face.

Video from the incident on June 1, 2020 shows a helicopter hovering above, creating massive winds. The maneuver, known as “rotor-wash” or “thumping,” is used by the military as an intimidation tactic.

Dashtamirova said the incident caused her physical and emotional damage.

“My eyes and skin stung from debris. I couldn’t hear anything over the extremely powerful winds,” she said in a news release from the ACLU. “For weeks afterward, I had horrible migraines and lost sleep. I kept trying to figure out why the military attacked us, and I kept worrying that it would happen again.”

The ACLU said Dashtamirova filed an administrative complaint with the National Guard in 2020, "which the Guard failed to resolve."

Dashtamirova lives in Baltimore and went to D.C. to participate in the demonstrations following the death of George Floyd.

D.C. implemented a city-wide curfew at 7 p.m. on June 1 after some protesters turned violent during the previous night's demonstrations. Sixty-one U.S. Park Police officers and seven D.C. police officers were hurt in clashes.

Shortly before the curfew began, former President Donald Trump said he planned to deploy "thousands and thousands of heavily armed" military and law enforcement to protect D.C.

Metropolitan Police Department officers in riot gear began to clear protesters from streets near the White House after military police cleared Lafayette Square using tear gas and flash bangs, tactics that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized.

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