The videos of the chaotic scene, which bore a clear resemblance to the controversial tactic used by federal officials to arrest protesters in Portland, Oregon, quickly went viral. Demonstrators who witnessed the incident described him as “kidnapping,” while a number of New York elected officials, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), rejected the officials’ actions and made public statements by the NYPD demanded.
“Our civil liberties are marginal. This is not an exercise, ”tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. “There is no excuse for grabbing women off the streets and throwing them into unmarked vans.”
(This video contains an explicit language.)
The police agency said in a statement on Twitter that its officers had used an unmarked van to arrest the police, adding that the woman who was detained “for police camera damage in 5 different criminal incidents in and around the City Hall Park was searched “.
In an email to the Washington Post, the authorities identified the protester as 18-year-old Nikki Stone, also known online as Nicki. Police said Stone will be charged with a criminal accident related to the five incidents and will receive a desk ticket.
“When Warrant Squad officials arrested the woman in a gray NYPD minivan tonight, they were attacked with stones and bottles,” Tuesday’s statement said. “The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate suspects.”
But the demonstrators who were present on Tuesday evening contested the version of the NYPD’s events and insisted that they did not physically deal with the officers themselves at the time of the arrest.
“None of this happened,” said Clara Kraebber, a 20-year-old Oxford student, to Gothamist. “We literally went around the corner and were hit by a number of police officers who attacked us without warning.”
Kraebber said police officers “apparently accidentally” sprayed the group during the arrest and added, “They tried to make it painful to be there.”
Another witness told Gothamist that the demonstrators “skateboarded and ate pizza” before the van arrived unexpectedly.
“We didn’t see where they came from,” said the witness. “Suddenly they grabbed Nicki. It was like a kidnapping. “
Stone’s arrest was recorded in several videos that were widely distributed on social media on Tuesday evening.
In a clip, a group of demonstrators, some of whom ride bicycles and skateboards, walk down the street before the camera pans to one of the officers who roughly grabs Stone a few meters from the van.
As a handful of demonstrators approach, an officer repeatedly shouts, “Come back!” and walking fees for those who get too close.
In seconds, more police officers flood the area and use their bikes to build a barrier between the van, where officers are still fighting Stone, and the crowd.
“What the hell is wrong with you pigs?” A person screams in a video that shows a different perspective on the incident.
Additional videos of the episodes showed demonstrators in a tense conflict against the remaining NYPD officers. An officer was filmed yelling at the demonstrators to step back while swinging a large spray bottle and truncheon.
Although the NYPD suggested that Tuesday’s arrest followed the standard procedure and no federal agencies were involved, many found that the scene this month was too much like the reports from Portland, in which protesters were taken off the street and in by military-style agents unmarked minivans were loaded.
Federal agents’ actions in Portland, which have been reported to have been used in a Trump demonstration championed by President Trump, have increased concern in cities like New York and Chicago, where protests and violence are still frequent. In recent weeks, Trump has defended the Portland operation against critics who have rejected the agents’ aggressive tactics and have continued to threaten to send federal forces to other cities, led by democratic mayors.
On Tuesday, when videos of Stone being pushed into the van by NYPD officials stirred up millions of visitors, several city officials expressed unease about the arrest, and at least one called for an independent review of the incident. By early Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) of New York had not commented on the viral footage, and the mayor’s office had not responded to a request for comment from The Post.
“[W]Concerned about what is happening in Portland, the NYPD uses unmarked vans with plainclothes officers to arrest protesters on the street [sic] feels more like provocation than public security, ”tweeted Brad Lander (D), member of the New York City Council.
City council spokesman Corey Johnson (D) tweeted that the video was “incredibly distracting,” while New York comptroller Scott M. Stringer said he was “deeply concerned.”
“We need answers right away,” added Stringer.
In the meantime, Gale A. Brewer, President of the Manhattan District, asked the police to remember the importance of de-escalation.
“We can’t let what happens in Portland happen here,” Brewer tweeted. “Part of the accountability of the police is that ordinary people know who is monitoring them. If you cannot identify a vehicle that is taking someone with you, an alarm is triggered. The police cannot de-escalate situations unless they identify themselves. “