A video showing a protester being detained and pulled into an unmarked minivan on the streets of Manhattan has prompted the New York Police Department (NYPD) to issue a statement defending their actions, The New York Times reported. The incident occurred on Tuesday and drew comparisons to similar instances of protesters being rounded up by unidentified federal agents in Portland.
The video shows demonstrators at the corner of 2nd Ave & 25th St., where they had been protesting the clearing of the “Occupy City Hall” encampment by NYPD from the week prior. New York City has seen consistent social unrest and demonstrations dating back to the May 25 death of George Floyd that sparked national outrage.
A chaotic scene unfolded in the 41-second clip, which shows a woman struggling with four plainclothes men who are attempting to apprehend her into a gray minivan. A handful of protesters converged on the area to which one of the men repeatedly yells at them to step back. About halfway through the recording, multiple uniformed officers on bikes show up to further secure the scene as the protester is loaded into the vehicle, which was free of any marking or decals, and it drives away.
The video quickly made rounds across social media, which led to theories of New York being the next city the Trump administration would be targeting with a federal troop occupation as seen in Portland.
NYC is taking after Portland – a trans femme protestor was pulled into an unmarked van at the Abolition Park protest – this was at 2nd Ave and 25th Street pic.twitter.com/1PDhSYuK9h
— michelle lh࿊࿊q (@MichelleLhooq) July 28, 2020
NYPD issued a statement on Twitter Tuesday evening to defend the encounter that said the woman was wanted by authorities for damaging police cameras during five separate incidents. It also noted that responding officers were struck with rocks and bottles when they arrived on the scene.
According to the agency’s release, the arrest was made by NYPD’s “Warrant Squad,” which frequently utilizes unmarked vehicles in an effort to better locate wanted individuals.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who’s district the arrest happened in, tweeted out late last night that the suspect has been released and identified her only as “Nikki.” Prior to that development however, CBS New York reporter Ali Bauman said on Twitter that officers would not tell members of the media where the woman was taken or where she would be processed, further adding to confusion and paranoia among the demonstrators.
Another city council member, Brad Lander of Brooklyn, criticized the actions of NYPD in the context of what has been unfolding in Portland.
“Deploying unmarked vans with plainclothes cops to make street arrests of protesters feels more like provocation than public safety.”
The city’s comptroller, Scott M. Stringer, also questioned NYPD tactics by saying the incident had him “deeply concerned.”
When pressed for further comment, Mayor Bill de Blasio would only default to the NYPD statement.