Protestors march across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan on June 19. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security monitored Black Lives Matters protests in more than 15 cities with airplanes, drones and helicopters, according to Customs and Border Protection data obtained by the New York Times.

Driving the news: The Air Force inspector general said on Thursday it plans to investigate the use of a military reconnaissance plane used to surveil demonstrations in multiple cities held in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What they're saying: Officials at the CBP base in Grand Forks, North Dakota told the Times' Zolan Kanno-Youngs that the surveillance was "used to provide an eagle-eyed view of violent acts and arson."

  • Deployed unmanned aircraft, including a Predator drone sent to Minneapolis, were neither armed nor supplied with facial recognition software, unnamed CBP officials told the Times.
  • The aircraft "flew at a height that made it impossible to identify individuals or license plates," senior officials told the Times.
  • The CBP confirmed the Times reporting.

Details: AS350 helicopters monitored protests in 13 cities for over 168 hours, with the longest surveillance stretch at 58 hours over Detroit, the Times reports, citing data from Air and Marine Operations.

  • Aircraft filmed protests in New York City, Philadelphia, Buffalo and Dayton, Ohio along with other cities to send real-time footage to Air and Marine Operations control centers, the Times reports.

The backdrop: House Democrats on the Oversight Committee have called for the DHS to explain how it surveilled and intimidated peaceful protesters, including with drones and armed, uniformed officers.

Go deeper: House Democrats call for investigation into DEA protester surveillance

Go deeper

DOJ to send federal agents to St. Louis and Memphis

Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

The Justice Department announced Thursday that it will send federal law enforcement agents to St. Louis, Mo., and Memphis, Tenn., to help stem violent crime.

Why it matters: The Trump administration's deployment expands its "Operation Legend" program as President Trump has blamed spikes of violence across the U.S. on activists' efforts to "dismantle and dissolve" local law enforcement. Democrats have accused Trump of targeting Democratic-run cities as part of his "law and order" messaging strategy following the police killing of George Floyd.

Updated 50 mins ago - Science

Texas and Louisiana face fresh flood threat from Tropical Storm Beta

Tropical Storm Beta slowly approaching the Texas coast on Monday. Photo: National Weather Service/Twitter

Tropical Storm Beta was dumping heavy rains over Texas as it churned its way inland overnight, bringing the risk of "life-threatening storm surge" and flooding to parts of the state and Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

What's happening: The slow-moving storm was causing coastal flooding along areas including the bays near Houston and Galveston in Texas Monday, per the National Weather Service. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) made a disaster declaration and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) declared a state of emergency Monday.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,328,238 — Total deaths: 964,839— Total recoveries: 21,503,496Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,857,967 — Total deaths: 199,884 — Total recoveries: 2,615,949 — Total tests: 95,841,281Map.
  3. Health: CDC says it mistakenly published guidance about COVID-19 spreading through air.
  4. Media: Conservative blogger who spread COVID-19 misinformation worked for Fauci's agency.
  5. Politics: House Democrats file legislation to fund government through Dec. 11.
  6. World: U.K. upgrades COVID alert level as Europe sees worrying rise in infections — "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.

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