Turkish police shoot down unmanned aircraft above protest

Turkey protests

Over the past two weeks, thousands of protesters have rallied at Gezi in Turkey’s capital, Ankara, against the government’s plans to raze the public park and turn it into a commercial zone and military barracks. Police have responded with tear gas, water hoses, and batons. The sudden explosion of political dissatisfaction has shocked the usually peaceful country, along with much of the world.

One Turkish citizen happened to be equipped with a small, RC helicopter with video recording capabilities, which he flew above the heads of protesters and police to gather close-up, aerial footage. The man’s video, posted on Vimeo, shows groups of police attempting to disperse crowds with gas and pressurized water.

Protesters can be seen scrambling to find cover at Taskim Square, in Istanbul. A fire in the distance sends smoke into the air.

According to the unmanned helicopter’s pilot, police shot the aircraft from the sky, which was destroyed completely on impact with the ground. The pilot was unable to recover video of the incident, but was able to obtain video leading up to that point.

Unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, more commonly called “drones” in the media, are increasingly being deployed by activists. Over the past three years, they have appeared over protests in Russia, Poland, Estonia, and Argentina. In February, 2012, a group of animal rights activists were recording a pigeon shooting event in South Carolina with their own unmanned aircraft, when it was shot down by hunters.

The image at the top of the post, and the videos at the bottom, come from @jenk1907.

Matthew Schroyer is the founder of DroneJournalism.org, co-founder of the transdisciplinary research consultancy DronesForGood.com, and leads the National Science Foundation grant-funded Drones for Schools STEM robotics initiative at the University of Illinois. He can be reached at mschroyer@gmail.com, or on Twitter as @matthew_ryan.