Unmarked Van Used in 'Incredibly Disturbing' NYC Arrest

Plainclothes officers forced protester into vehicle in tactic similar to that used by feds in Portland
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2020 6:35 AM CDT

An arrest that one city official called "incredibly disturbing" took place on the streets of New York City on Tuesday evening, drawing comparisons to detentions taking place in Portland, Ore., by federal agents who've loaded protesters into unmarked minivans. This time, however, the NYPD was involved, per the New York Times, and viral videos of the incident—in which a teen demonstrator is seen being pulled into an unmarked van by plainclothes police officers and driven away—are drawing criticism from lawmakers and the public. In footage now circulating on social media, the protester can be seen being forced into the vehicle by several men in T-shirts and shorts, who keep other demonstrators at bay until clearly identified NYPD officers show up on bikes to assist arrest efforts. With protesters yelling, the Kia van then drives away. The NYPD addressed the incident online soon after.

"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," it said, adding that "arresting officers were assaulted with rocks & bottles." The NYPD says seven officers were injured, per CBS News. Authorities tell the Washington Post the arrested woman was 18-year-old Nikki Stone, adding that "the Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects." Protesters at the scene deny assaulting the officers, with one telling Gothamist they were "skateboarding and eating pizza" when the cops arrived and grabbed Stone, "like a kidnapping." Local officials want an investigation. "Part of police accountability is ordinary citizens knowing who is policing them," Gale Brewer, Manhattan's borough president, tweeted. "When you can't identify a vehicle taking someone, it causes alarm. Police can't de-escalate situations if they don't identify themselves." (More New York City stories.)

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