A video of New York City plainclothes police officers yanking a protester and shoving her into an unmarked van went viral yesterday (July 28) and now the police department has responded with a statement. On Twitter, an LGBTQ civil rights organization identified the protester as an 18-year old homeless trans woman named Nikki, who was attending an Abolition Park protest. According to the statement from the NYPD, the protester was wanted for allegedly damaging police body cameras.
“In regard to a video on social media that took place at 2 Ave & 25 St, 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 statement began on Twitter.
“When officers from the Warrant Squad took the woman into custody in a gray NYPD minivan this evening, they were assaulted with rocks and bottles. The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects.”
“When she was placed into the Warrant Squad’s unmarked gray minivan, it was behind a cordon of NYPD bicycle cops in bright yellow and blue uniform shirts there to help effect the arrest,” the statement concluded.
Many activists and eye-witnesses on Twitter have criticized the police’s handling of the protester and compared the unmarked vans to those in Portland. Others also accused the department of lying about being attacked with rocks and bottles.
Tensions have continued to escalate in Portland, where federal agents were deployed by the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security earlier this month. Tactics used by the agents — including tear-gassing and detaining protesters — have resulted in lawsuits from the Oregon Attorney General and the “Wall of Moms” advocacy group. After weeks of pushing officials to withdraw the agents, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is expected to make an announcement about their presence very soon, according to KOIN.
See video of New York police officers detaining the protester and the department’s statement below.