The skies over Minneapolis were a conspiracy theorist’s delight as they swarmed with Black Hawk helicopters, the result of a training exercise conducted earlier this week, according to Defense Department officials.
The helicopters belong to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, the Daily Mail claims. While the Department of Defense has apologized for “any alarm or inconvenience” that the helicopters have caused, officials would not comment on the purpose of the exercise.
Minneapolis residents expressed frustration and anger at the exercises, citing the disturbance the helicopters create. St. Paul City Council member Chris Tolbert called the activity “outrageous,” according to the Pioneer Press:
“We’re going to have Black Hawks flying at a low level over a densely populated urban area without any notice at all? I had helicopters shaking my house at 11:57 last night. They were right over the trees.”
This isn’t the first time that the Night Stalkers have brought their helicopters to Minneapolis. Similar exercises took place in 2012, although, in that instance, police notified residents days in advance. No such warning was issued this year, and over 200 people jammed 911 and non-emergency phone lines on Monday night, when the Black Hawk helicopters made their first appearance.
— News (@politicsRSS) August 20, 2014
The training sessions, which last around four hours, are “something that we do 10 to 15 times a year throughout the country,” said Maj. Allen Hill, a spokesman for the Night Stalkers. The urban terrain gives the helicopter pilots “an unfamiliar environment — an area they’re not accustomed to. Towns like Minneapolis, St. Paul, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, they’re all great hosts.”
Local residents counted seven or eight Black Hawk helicopters taking part in the exercises, flying so low that some worried they were crashing. Others claimed that they observed military personnel rappelling from a helicopter onto the roof of the Federal Reserve Bank in downtown Minneapolis. Hill refuted that claim, saying that rappelling was not a part of the exercises.
— Eric Gajewski (@eric_gajewski) August 21, 2014
Police have denied allegations that the Pentagon offered them military hardware in exchange for their cooperation. As The Inquisitr has noted, the increased militarization of the nation’s police has recently reached the forefront of public debate in the wake of rioting in Ferguson, Mo.
Minneapolis is a beautiful city when black helicopters don’t ruin the view. pic.twitter.com/cTygx5hvXi
— Smiley Hill (@smilyus) August 22, 2014
The training exercises and Black Hawk helicopter flights concluded on Thursday.
[Image via Daily Mail]