Video: NYPD Officers Throwing Protest Leader Into Unmarked Van

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Above photo: Video shows plain-clothed NYPD officers throwing a protester into an unmarked van on the night of July 27, 2020. From Abolition Park Media.

NYPD officers dragged a protest leader into an unmarked minivan van and doused onlookers with pepper spray during an anti-police brutality march in Manhattan on Tuesday night.

The individual, who friends identified as an 18-year-old trans woman named Nicki, was grabbed from the group by plainclothes officers at 25th Street and Second Avenue. Video shows a man in an orange shirt marked “Warrant Squad” helping to push the woman into a silver KIA minivan before driving away. 

Witnesses said the arrest came as roughly 200 people were leaving a small plaza on 26th Street where they had stopped for a skateboarding event, amid a planned 24-hour demonstration against the NYPD and the raid of City Hall earlier this month.

“Suddenly there was an unmarked grey van that moved out in front of us that had been waiting for us,” said Derrick, a 32-year-old protester, who declined to give his last name. “Four guys jumped out and a line of police bicycles came out from down the block — we hadn’t seen them. They pushed us back. They grabbed Nicki like she was a rag doll…They had her arms on her neck and then they drove off.”

“They’re targeting our leaders,” he added. “That’s what’s going to happen now.”

As videos of the arrest sparked outrage online, the NYPD tweeted that the woman was “wanted for damaging police cameras during 5 separate criminal incidents in & around City Hall Park.” They added that officers were assaulted by rocks and bottles in the process of making the arrest.

But at least three people at the scene who spoke to Gothamist disputed that narrative.

“None of that happened whatsoever,” said Clara Kraebber, a 20-year-old Oxford student. “We literally turned the corner and were met with a line of police who attacked us without warning.”

She added that officers used pepper spray “seemingly at random” against the group as the arrest was in progress. “They were trying to make it painful to be there.”

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the arrest “incredibly disturbing.” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said he was concerned about the video and trying to get answers.

Asked about the incident, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy press secretary, Julia Arredondo, forwarded links to the NYPD’s statement on Twitter. She did not respond to an inquiry about whether de Blasio had personally seen the video, or if this was an appropriate arrest of someone accused of criminal mischief.

Several officials said the tactics bore similarities to the action of federal agents in Portland, which de Blasio has previously condemned.

“Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill,” Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.”

Listen to reporter Gwynne Hogan’s radio story for WNYC:

Following the arrest, protesters continued marching to Madison Square Park, where they were met with dozens of NYPD officers wielding riot shields and bikes. Video shows police arresting several more protesters for being in the street outside the park. A photographer who goes by Budi was among those arrested, according to witnesses.

The march moved to Times Square by 9:00 p.m. on Tuesday, as protesters vowed to continue demonstrating all night.

“They chased us out of Madison Square Park but we continued,” said Kraebber. “Now the mood is absolute determination.”

The arrested protester, Nicki Stone, was released from custody shortly after midnight on Wednesday, an NYPD spokesperson said. Stone, 18, is charged with multiple counts of vandalism and criminal mischief for five incidents in June and July. Police say Stone spray-painted graffiti at numerous locations in Manhattan, including inside the Oculus at the WTC and on an F train. Stone is also accused of painting over four NYPD surveillance cameras at the intersection of Chambers and Centre Street by the former site of the Occupy City Hall encampment.

Stone emerged from the 1st Precinct station house on the Lower East Side around 1 a.m. and was met with cheers from her fellow protesters.

Additional reporting by John Del Signore

  • Blaine

    You can bet your backside they’re using fusion center and stingray tech to build association trees and pinpoint high value individuals.

    What is the charge? This is SOTA tactics coming home to roost. Pretty soon these people will not be re-emerging

  • jim james

    PEople should’ve shot dead the goon in blue tee-shirt and cargo shorts and taken your chances at trial by jury, arguing self-defense. I saw no warrant, no imprimatur of law.

    Oops meant all three of them. Then kidnapped the guys in neon.

    Sure, it sounds radical but no more radical than lawless goons claiming they’re the law.

  • Richard

    This is getting out of hand, to many trouble makers & criminals mixed in with the protestors. Makes all protestors look bad just like a few bad cops make them all look bad. Just who are they protesting to at all hours of the night when most people are in bed asleep? Glad I do not live in the big city and have to put up with this BS.

  • Richard

    Go for it, nobody’s stopping you.

  • Edward Winslow

    Goons wearing plain clothes snatching people off the street and dragging them into unmarked vans echoes the rendition tactics of the CIA terrorism used in Latin America .

    Welcome to the New Order of decaying capitalist tyranny of the US .

  • mwildfire

    Let me guess–you are white and middle class, thus your illusion that “a few cops make the others look bad.” IF there were rocks and bottle thrown, and IF cameras were painted out, those are criminal acts. And yet, in context, taking out cameras police use for Big Brother surveillance is reasonable self-defense, and rocks and bottles thrown while police are snatching someone off the street without identifying themselves or making charges, is what SHOULD HAVE happened in Germany in the 1930s and could have averted a lot of tragedy.

  • Nylene13

    Good point about the “Good German” citizens who did nothing under Hitler.

    “When in the course of Human Events, it becomes Necessary….”
    Thomas Jefferson

  • Richard

    It’s been necessary for a long time now.

  • Richard

    Guess, if, and “should have” don’t count as much of anything. Warrant officers have been using unmarked vehicles for decades now. Even some cities police cars here are marked very lightly, you have to be pretty damn close to read them. She had warrants, if she did not want to go to jail she should have not committed the crime. I believe that in 1930’s Germany they would have shot you for just looking at them the wrong way, much less throwing stuff at them.

    Take a good long look around, the cops are not the only ones with problems out there, in a whole lot of places far to many citizens are just as bad or worse. This whole country is full of hate & anger, your government is infected with Greed & with it’s war machine it’s searching the world for more and more riches to plunder and innocent civilians to kill, and it’s just getting warmed up and the rest of us are caught in the middle like the ones in other countries. This country is going to destroy itself from the inside if things don’t change soon.

  • mwildfire

    No, in 1930s Germany it was incremental. Largely directed against Jews and Communists, but also anyone who opposed them, Gypsies, homosexuals…and it was a series of increasingly oppressive laws–Jews could now own businesses, they could not own property, they could not use certain public facilities, meanwhile the citizenry that was not in any of the minority groups was encouraged to be hostile and disrespectful to the minorities (particularly Jews). From the start they had brownshirt thugs intimidating their opponents, starting with the Communists, who were serious rivals early on, until the Reichstag fire, almost certainly a false flag operation, was used to completely sideline and criminalize the communists. I think gradually people who didn’t like the Nazis saw what happened to people who openly opposed them, shut up and many of them at some point were swept into the emotional relief and release of joining the mob. Refusing to be intimidated by the brownshirts is key to preventing it here.

  • Nylene13

    But where is our Thomas Jefferson?

    In jail, most of them.

    Like Julian Assange.