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Head of the California National Guard is accused of deploying a spy plane to monitor a small protest in the affluent suburb where he lives - as he says he can't recall if he authorized it

 National Guard spy planes monitored four sites in June during the George Floyd protests: Minneapolis, Phoenix, Washington DC, and a sleepy and affluent suburb that is home to the head of the California National Guard, according to a newspaper report on Sunday.

The four planes took to the skies over the cities in early June to monitor street protests following the killing of George Floyd.

Their usage has been controversial and raised questions about spying on peaceful protesters. 

Three of the reconnaissance planes watched demonstrations in Minneapolis, Phoenix and Washington DC, that drew hundreds or thousands of protesters and were marred by violence.  

Department of Defense video shows a scene in Minneapolis captured by an RC-26 on June 4

Department of Defense video shows a scene in Minneapolis captured by an RC-26 on June 4

Baldwin, center, said he didn't recall whether he approved putting spy planes above his district

Baldwin, center, said he didn't recall whether he approved putting spy planes above his district

But the target of the fourth plane was the prosperous Sacramento, California, suburb of El Dorado Hills, where much smaller rallies were entirely peaceful, the Los Angeles Times said.

The head of the California National Guard, Major General David S. Baldwin, lives in El Dorado Hills, the paper reported. 

Local and state authorities have not explained in detail how and why that neighborhood was chosen for the mission.

Other California cities, including Los Angeles and Oakland, saw property destruction and street clashes amid large protests, but were not being watched.

In Baldwin's neighborhood, however, a RC-26B reconnaissance plane was sent to keep an eye, in addition to a Lakota helicopter which hovered over the suburb, according to Guard officials and records. 

The aircraft were requested by the El Dorado County Sheriff's Office, state records show.

El Dorado Hills, 30 miles from downtown Sacramento, were the scene of peaceful protests

El Dorado Hills, 30 miles from downtown Sacramento, were the scene of peaceful protests

While Los Angeles and Oakland saw violent unrest, El Dorado Hills (pictured) was calm

While Los Angeles and Oakland saw violent unrest, El Dorado Hills (pictured) was calm

Gavin Newsom, governor of California, who oversees the California National Guard, issued a statement late on Saturday criticizing the operation.

Maj Gen David S. Baldwin, head of the California National Guard lives in El Dorado Hills

Maj Gen David S. Baldwin, head of the California National Guard lives in El Dorado Hills

'The use of the RC-26 to meet the sheriff's request for aerial support to provide situational awareness for law enforcement is concerning and should not have happened,' said Newsom's spokesman Nathan Click. 

'It was an operational decision made without the approval - let alone awareness - of the governor. 

'After the incident, operational policies and protocols were reaffirmed and strengthened to ensure RC-26 aircraft are not used for these incidents again.'

Click did not elaborate or say whether the governor's office is examining Baldwin's role in the matter.

Baldwin told the Times he did not recall whether he had approved the mission. 

He said the fact that he lived in El Dorado Hills had 'nothing to do with' the deployment of the RC-26B or the Lakota helicopter.

A C-26B like the one pictured was deployed above Baldwin's home district in California

A C-26B like the one pictured was deployed above Baldwin's home district in California

The Sheriff's Office also sent a Lakota helicopter to monitor events around El Dorado Hills

The Sheriff's Office also sent a Lakota helicopter to monitor events around El Dorado Hills

After questions from Congress members and others about the flights, an Air Force inspector general's report issued in August concluded that the reconnaissance planes were not capable of capturing 'distinguishing personal features of individuals' and did not violate rules barring the military from collecting intelligence on U.S. citizens. 

The inspector general's report did not include a detailed examination of whether the mission to El Dorado Hills was warranted given the uneventful nature of the protests.

The report states that the mission grew out of a 'high priority' request by the state Office of Emergency Services, made on behalf of the El Dorado sheriff's office.

According to the report, the sheriff's office said it needed the aircraft to provide support for deputies on the ground who were tracking demonstrations.

Five current and former Guard officers with knowledge of the flights said in interviews that they knew of no justifiable reason for the El Dorado Hills mission.

'El Dorado Hills was the most monitored place in California,' said Dan Woodside, a recently-retired Guard pilot who has flown the RC-26B. 

'Why was that? What was the threat?'

Vehicles for the District of Columbia National Guard are seen outside the D.C. Armory on June 1

Vehicles for the District of Columbia National Guard are seen outside the D.C. Armory on June 1

Arizona National Guardsmen disembark from military vehicles in Phoenix on June 2

Arizona National Guardsmen disembark from military vehicles in Phoenix on June 2

Workers install security fencing and barriers at Lafayette Park near the White House June 23

Workers install security fencing and barriers at Lafayette Park near the White House June 23

Protesters take to the streets of Phoenix on June 2 to protest George Floyd's death

Protesters take to the streets of Phoenix on June 2 to protest George Floyd's death 

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