Video Reportedly Shows Drone Shot Down by Police at Turkish Protests

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
June 24 2013 3:44 PM

Video Reportedly Shows Drone Shot Down by Police at Turkish Protests

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Anti-government protesters in Istanbul, Turkey

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images

During the unrest in Turkey earlier this month, a mini-drone operated by an activist buzzed above protesters recording the action as it unfolded on the streets below. That is, until the police apparently decided to shoot it down.

The activist, who goes by the name Jenk K, has been posting a series of excellent videos of the large demonstrations that have swept Istanbul in recent weeks. Using a micro-drone, he has captured aerial footage of protests at Taksim Square, recording the historic scenes both during the day and at night. Jenk’s drone has helped document heavy-handed tactics being used by Turkish authorities to suppress the protests, including the use of water cannons, tear gas, and plastic bullets.

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However, the security forces do not appear to have taken kindly to the drone keeping tabs on their actions. Last week, as TechCrunch reports, Jenk posted a new video of what he says is his drone being shot down by the cops. Footage of the incident shows a small drone aircraft hovering in the sky before being abruptly smashed to the ground by what appears to be a gunshot of some kind. See for yourself in the video below. The exact moment of impact comes at about 32 seconds.

Jenk’s use of the drone to capture images of the Turkish protests is yet another illustration of how drone technology can be a valuable tool for journalists and activists. The aircraft provide a method of monitoring the conduct of authorities during protest actions, and have been used for similar purposes to document cruelty to animals. But the danger, of course, is that the equipment is not invisible—and nor is it bulletproof. Jenk discovered, as have animal-rights activists before him, that mini-drones are an easy target for anyone with a gun and an itchy trigger finger. There’s a vital lesson in this for budding drone journalists: Get insurance before launching your maiden flight.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Ryan Gallagher is a journalist who reports on surveillance, security, and civil liberties.

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