State Watch

New York police confirm arrest of protester in unmarked van

The New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed late Tuesday that officers arrested a protester and placed her in an unmarked van after videos of the episode quickly spread across social media.

Footage showed a group of plainclothes officers wrestling a protester to the pavement during a demonstration in Manhattan and shoving her into an unmarked van. As the protester was detained, several officers, some of whom arrived on bicycles, pushed a crowd of people away from the vehicle.

Video showed tensions rising between officers and people in the streets as the arrest transpired. 

In a series of tweets, the NYPD confirmed that its officers conducted the arrest. The department said that the individual taken into custody was wanted for allegedly damaging police cameras during five separate incidents around City Hall Park.

The police also claimed that “arresting officers were assaulted with rocks & bottles” while detaining the person.

“The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects,” NYPD said. “When she was placed into the Warrant Squad’s unmarked gray minivan, it was behind a cordon of NYPD bicycle cops in bright yellow and blue uniform shirts there to help effect the arrest.”

A NYPD spokesperson told The Hill that the person arrested was charged with criminal mischief and tagging graffiti in five incidents between June and July. The protestor was identified as 18-year-old Nikki Stone.

Witnesses told The Gothamist that the person arrested is a transgender woman. They said the arrest came as about 200 people were leaving a small plaza amid a demonstration against the New York police.

Some people who were at the scene maintained that no one threw rocks or bottles at the officers, the Gothamist reported. 

Local officials weighed in on the incident as footage spread rapidly online. New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer called for “answers,” saying that he was “deeply concerned by the videos circulating.”

“Incredibly disturbing. We need answers,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said. 

New York Rep. Jerry Nadler (D) also called for an “immediate explanation for this anonymous use of force.”

“This video—of a protester in New York City being thrown in an unmarked van—is terrifying and should be unacceptable to everyone who respects the constitutional rights this country was founded on,” he said in a tweet.

The incident comes as cites across the U.S. continue to experience protests following the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody. Tension at protests heightened in some cities after the Trump administration’s deployment of federal officers to certain areas seeing escalating unrest. 

Federal officers drew attention earlier this month after reports first surfaced that people in Portland, Ore., were being detained and placed into unmarked vans. Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) and Ron Wyden (D), as well as the U.S. Attorney for the Oregon District, have called for an investigation into that matter.

Updated at 9:35 a.m.

Tags Jeff Merkley Jerry Nadler Ron Wyden

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