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Did The FBI Secretly Hover Over The Streets Of Baltimore?

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- During Baltimore's state of emergency, law enforcement officers made a point of standing out and being seen--but not the FBI.

Alex DeMetrick reports the feds were watching from above.

There are times when looking down is the best way to see.

When violence rocked Baltimore, Captain Jeff Long reported:

"When you've got something like this, you've got people running all over the place, throwing rocks and looting and starting vehicles on fire and destroying vehicles like this, really the best vantage point you can get is from the air."

City and state police took to the air--clearly marked, they're hard to miss.

Not so obvious was a single engine Cessna and a small Cessna jet--both were conducting aerial surveillance for the FBI.

The website tracked them circling Baltimore--not during the riot--the FBI was watching last weekend when peaceful demonstrations were held.

The ACLU has filed a request with the FBI to learn what video and cell phone data was collected during the flights.

Baltimore police referred questions about the flights to the FBI.

At first, the local FBI field headquarters declined to comment, but in a statement to WJZ, it said:

"The aircraft were specifically used to assist in providing high altitude observation of potential criminal activity to enable rapid response by police officers on the ground. The FBI aircraft were not there to monitor lawfully protected first amendment activity."

It's not known just how much aid police on the ground received from the FBI's planes.

According to an FBI spokesperson, any aviation support it supplies to local police must be approved at the highest levels of the FBI.

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