An alarming trend in police tactics has started to emerge as demonstrations against police violence and systemic racism continue across the country. New York City police officers, some not in uniform, arrested a protester on Tuesday (July 28) as she marched at a demonstration in response to the clearing of the Occupy City Hall encampment last week. Officers tossed the struggling woman into an unmarked van before driving away, The New York Times reports. The protester appears to have been targeted.
Reports The Times:
Videos of the encounter drew intense criticism on social media, including accusations that the New York police were adopting tactics similar to those used by federal agents during recent protests in Portland, Ore., where some people were pulled into unmarked vans.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) released a statement obtained by The Times saying the protester was nabbed by the warrant squad in connection with “damaging police cameras during five separate criminal incidents in and around City Hall Park.” According to The Times, officers seem to be referring to incidents that took place during the Occupy City Hall protests.
One witness captured video of the frightening arrest:
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
The NYPD confirmed in their statement that this arrest took place on Second Avenue and East 25th Street in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan.
According to The Times:
While the police indicated that they were following standard procedure, the incident comes at a time when law enforcement practices are under intense scrutiny. Several city officials said on Tuesday that they were troubled by the videos of the woman’s arrest and publicly demanded a fuller explanation from the Police Department.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who represents the district where the arrest occurred, said Wednesday (July 29) that the woman has been released from custody, according to The Times.
We’ve just received confirmation that Nikki has been released. Thank you to all the advocates who have been bringing support and attention. Now it’s time to hear from @NYCMayor about how he will address this arrest and the future of unidentifiable policing in NYC.— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) July 29, 2020
Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn said on Twitter that this type of policing isn’t about keeping people safe. With the “anxiety about what’s happening in Portland, the N.Y.P.D. deploying unmarked vans with plainclothes cops to make street arrests of protesters feels more like provocation than public safety,” he said.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio had no comment on the incident, but his spokesperson referred questions about the woman’s Tuesday arrest to the statement released by the NYPD, The Times reports.