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‘This thing is on!’ What police bodycam footage from the George Floyd protests shows

Framgrab of Boston Police video from June 1, 2020 protest aftermath.
Framgrab of Boston Police video from June 1, 2020 protest aftermath.

The recent publication of videos showing Boston police officers using force and talking candidly and harshly about protesters immediately prompted the police department and the district attorney’s office to open investigations on Friday.

The video clips, posted by online news outlet The Appeal, come from body cameras worn by officers deployed on May 31 to handle citywide protests over the death of George Floyd. Late that night, after a day of peaceful demonstrators, some officers skirmished with protesters, as well as with people who looted stores downtown.

Here’s what those video clips show.

Compilation showing woman being knocked down, police chasing a protester who kicked a tear gas canister towards them, and State Police trooper jabbing a protester with baton.

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This video is a compilation from more than one body camera and from different locations in downtown Boston during the peaceful protests and the separate looting that followed.

Click here to see the video.

It shows:

-- During the first eight seconds, two views from two different body cameras as an officer in riot gear is moving to clear what appears to be Tremont Street. He is approached by a woman with both of her arms over her head.

The officer slams his baton into the woman’s chest, knocking her flat on her back and then steps over her and continues walking down the street.

-- Six seconds show what appears to be the same officer move toward a man riding a scooter, whom he knocks to the ground with his baton, and then continues walking forward.

-- Two seconds show both Boston police and State Police moving forward in a line while confronted by protestors who are slowly backing up. A trooper looks to his right where a Boston police officer with a body camera activated is located. At that point the trooper turns forward and begins repeatedly jabbing a retreating protester in the stomach with the end of the baton.

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-- In another segment, the body camera is worn by a Boston police officer who is standing near the MBTA Park Street station on Tremont Street. A protestor is seen in the distance kicking a smoke can of gas back towards the officers.

“Let’s get the [expletive]! Let’s get him,’' an officer says as about five officers on bikes rush forward to grab the protester. Another officer can be heard shouting a counterorder.

“Fall back! Fall back! Reposition!”

The video ends as officers appear to surround the protester.

-- Two seconds show another confrontation where an officer appears to swear at a woman and then throw her to the ground. Another protester is holding an American flag on a pole, upside down.

This is a 45-second compilation of officers at a various times and locations in downtown Boston.

Click here to see the video.

It shows:

-- “We’re not playing with the [expletive],’' an officer could be heard saying. In the camera view is an officer wearing a Northeastern University police jacket.

-- In another scene, officers are shown vigorously using chemical sprays on protesters.

-- In a third scene near the Marshalls store in downtown Boston, the officer wearing the body camera appears to hold a chemical gas canister in front of him while speaking to another officer.

“Are you out? Are you out?,’’ the officer said. “I’ve got a little left. I am going to hit this [expletive].”

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-- In a fourth scene, officers surround a protester when suddenly an officer reaches in and sprays the person in the face with the chemical.

The final scene is of officers in a line on bicycles spraying protesters with chemical spray.

‘This thing is on!’

Officers are standing in a loose group watching protesters as they pass through what appears to be a Downtown Crossing intersection.

A sergeant describes driving a marked cruiser into the intersection of Tremont and Park where groups of protestors have gathered.

“Dude. Dude,’' he said, telling the other officer he started driving towards where protesters were “[messing] with” an unmarked State Police cruiser.

“So I overcommit and I got to [expletive] Tremont and Park. And I was in the middle of the [expletive] street,’' the sergeant said. “So then I had to keep coming. I was [expletive] hitting people with the car.”

He the recounted speaking with the protesters, “Didn’t you hear me? Get the [expletive]...”

The officer with the body camera then realizes it was on and recording. He abruptly walks away.

“This is on. This thing is on,’' the officer said.

The sergeant then says that he knew the camera was activated revised what he was describing.

The other officer, however, said “this thing just went on [expletive] automatically.”

‘Hope it fits.’

Officers are standing in downtown Boston where some looters have damaged store windows. In a 16-second video clip, an officer, wearing a police vest, walks over to the officer with the body camera and hands him a striped gold tie.

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“Here you go. Hope it fits,’' the officer with the vest said.

The recipient chuckles as he flips the tie in his hand. The tie appears to still have a price tag on it.

“Pretty nice,’' he said.

The officer who delivered the tie points over his shoulder with one hand and references looting and explains where he got the tie. He appears to say clothes have been left on the street.

“If you want some clothes, they’re everywhere,’' he appears to have said as he walks out of the camera’s frame.

“Fifty dollar tie,’' the officer who received the tie said.

‘You don’t want it to be like Nazi Germany! You want to see my papers?

In a 45-second video, as tear gas floats through the scene, a protester can be heard talking to officers standing across the street. It’s not clear who is speaking, though the body camera captures an image of a person standing with a skateboard in one hand and the other raised above his head.

“Nazi [expletive] Germany. You want to see my papers? No one wants to be like Nazi Germany,’' the man shouts towards police. “You want to see my papers?”

He then shouts, “I am still out here. I am still out here. I am doing this for George Floyd.”

‘Just one female.’

The video lasts 25 seconds. This body cam video was worn by an officer identified who appeared to be driving a prisoner transport van. When he arrives at a gathering point, he steps out of his vehicle and is asked by a uniformed sergeant how many prisoners he is transporting.

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“What do you got?,” the sergeant asks as he walks towards the officer.

“Just one female,’’ the officer answers.

“One?” the sergeant asks.

The officer confirms.

“Then we’re done,’' the sergeant said. “Theoretically we could take one more.”

The video abruptly ends.


John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.