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NYPD Under Fire For 'Terrifying' Arrest Of Protester Who Was Dragged Away In Unmarked Van
Plainclothes officers forced a woman, later identified as Nikki Stone, into an unmarked white van during a protest in Manhattan. The NYPD said Stone is suspected of spray-painting surveillance cameras.
The arrest of a vandalism suspect in New York City drew heavy criticism after video surfaced showing plainclothes officers forcing that person into an unmarked white van.
Video of the Tuesday arrest at a protest in New York City shows a number of plainclothes police officers restraining a demonstrator before putting her in an unmarked vehicle. While a number of other protestors attempt to intervene, uniformed bicycle officers quickly arrive to wall off protesters.
“They grabbed a transgender woman and they threw her down,” protestor Mike Laster told CBS New York. “I tried to separate myself from an officer and the protest and he threw his bike on me. … I got cuts all up on my hands and stuff.”
The protester was later identified as 18-year-old Nikki Stone, who was released from custody around 1 a.m. Wednesday. She's been accused of spray-painting graffiti around Manhattan and painting over NYPD surveillance cameras near the Occupy City Hall protest, according to ABC New York.
The NYPD defended their actions in a statement posted to Twitter.
"A woman taken into custody in an unmarked van was wanted for damaging police cameras during 5 separate criminal incidents in & around City Hall Park. The arresting officers were assaulted with rocks & bottles," the NYPD Twitter account claimed.
Videos of the arrest taken by bystanders do not appear to show any rocks or bottles being thrown at the officers.
A number of elected officials denounced the behavior displayed in the video, with Democratic House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams all calling for investigations.
"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," Nadler said in a tweet.
"It is totally unacceptable that an arrest for minor property crimes was carried out in such an aggressive and disturbing manner," Johnson said on Wednesday.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not directly criticize the arrest in Wednesday morning remarks, instead saying "I think it was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest."
But he ultimately affirmed the police's actions, adding "no one is allowed to damage police property."