An activist who was chased into a Ferguson neighborhood last night by police described witnessing a drone hovering overhead, though she could not confirm whether it was piloted by police, a member of the public or journalists.

“Drone overhead. Truck drove away but they’re still flashing a light,” Youtube blogger Netta posted, live tweeting as she laid “in someone’s backyard” hiding from police, and describing how tear gas smoke was so thick she couldn’t see.

The tweet immediately went viral, garnering more than 200 retweets in less than 20 minutes. Several Twitter users requested photos of the UAV, but none were provided. The activist, however, was certain it was a drone.

Shortly after midnight, police chased demonstrators into neighborhoods, where they indiscriminately through tear gas canisters into residential backyards and shot several people with rubber bullets.

Earlier in the week, a drone was used by RT film crew Ruptly to survey the protests. They published a 90 second clip shot by their drone hovering over the iconic, burnt-down Quik Trip convenience store, which has largely been the focal point of protests.

Prior to last night’s demonstrations, police had imposed a no-fly zone for low-flying aircraft over Ferguson, allegedly “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities,” however a specific restriction drone use was not mentioned.

Last year, St. Louis’ top cop Sam Dotson signaled his department would begin using the devices as early as this summer. Ferguson sits about 20 minutes northwest, on the outskirts of St. Louis.

“I think the technology is there now domestically for law enforcement agencies to rely on unmanned aerial observation platforms to do a variety of things,” Dotson said, indicating police would also use drones to track or follow suspicious vehicles.

FAA guidelines currently only restrict use of commercial drones, and prohibit hobbyists from flying them above 400 feet and near airports.


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