Boston police and prosecutors are investigating after body camera footage was released showing officers pushing protesters, crowds spraying pepper and an officer speaking about hitting protesters with a police vehicle.
A sergeant has been placed on administrative leave following the leak this week of footage captured during protests in Boston in early June 1 following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
The videos published Friday by The Appeal, an online media outlet, show officers pushing nonviolent protesters to the ground, spraying people and crowds with pepper spray, and an officer saying he may have run into people with a car.
A lawyer for the protesters requested the video.
Police Commissioner William Gross said in a statement he ordered an investigation as soon as the videos came to his attention.
“I have put a sergeant involved in this incident on administrative leave and will take any further steps necessary to complete the investigation,” Gross said. “I want to encourage people to bring these matters to our attention so that we can properly investigate them. “
Mayor Marty Walsh said in a statement that the footage is difficult to view and that he hopes to get answers from the investigation.
“We never want to see police using more force than necessary, even when tensions are high,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins said she was also investigating.
The chief of Boston’s largest police union accused the defense attorney who provided the videos to the outlet of “putting together several contextually deficient video clips” to falsely portray the police as “the real enemy of the police. town that night ”.
“Reality-altering effort and insult aside, the fact remains, the violence and hatred perpetrated against our officers and our city that night will be forever etched in the minds and memories of our people. officers and their families due to the damage caused by the police. hating anarchists and agitators who showed up at a peaceful protest armed with violence and seeking a fight, ”Larry Calderone of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association said in a statement.
Thousands of people marched peacefully through Boston in several protests on May 31. But as the marches ended around 9 p.m., protesters and police clashed. People looted shops, smashed windows, scribbled graffiti and set a police car on fire. The National Guard was called.
Fifty-three people were arrested, about half of them city residents. Nine officers were also hospitalized after being bombarded with stones, glass bottles and even fireworks, he said. Dozens of other officers and around 18 citizens were also treated for injuries, and 21 police cars were damaged.