NYPD Detain Teen Activist in Unmarked Van
Unsettling video footage reveals that the NYPD used an unmarked Kia minivan to arrest a teen protester.
On Tuesday, July 28th, ironically amidst a police brutality protest in Manhattan, several plainclothes NYPD officers used an unmarked vehicle to make an arrest. The detainee, a zealous 18-year-old trans femme protester Nikki Stone, was arrested for vandalism. Allegedly, the impassioned teen damaged police cameras near City Hall. However, any criminal accusations against Stone have been overshadowed by the seemingly inappropriate and unethical actions by the New York Police Department.
A 18-year-old trans femme person named Nikki (known to friends as Stickers) was ABDUCTED off of her skateboard during a PEACEFUL protest by undercover NYPD.
This is DISGUSTING
This is AN ABUSE OF POWER
This is OUR COUNTRY
For crying out loud
— Steph Frosch (@ElloSteph) July 29, 2020
Deeply disturbing video footage surfaced showing several NYPD officers, disguised as run-of-the-mill civilians, forcing Stone into an unmarked van. Witnesses likened the incident to a “kidnapping.” The video quickly went viral and fueled fierce backlash from the public.
NYPD just abducted an 18 year old unhoused trans woman and drove her away in an unmarked van. @NYGovCuomo @NYCMayor @NYPDShea @AOC WHERE IS NIKKI? Why was she targeted and taken? How are you allowing this to happen in our city? #WhereisNikki #nycprotests https://t.co/ye7dyKXqB3
— (@eearthkin) July 29, 2020
Many individuals were quick to highlight the uncanny parallels between this incident and recent events in Portland, Oregon. Various federal agents in Portland, Oregon have been chided for employing widely condemned tactics to arrest peaceful protesters.
I just spoke to the CO of the 13th who said “the NYPD’s Detective Bureau Warrant Division identified a wanted person & carried out an arrest.”
Clearly we need an ind. review + an immediate explanation for why an unmarked van full of officers was anywhere near a peaceful protest. https://t.co/j4OKqp3MRv
— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) July 29, 2020
High-profile individuals have harshly criticized the NYPD’s actions and continue to demand answers. On Wednesday, July 29th, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio censured the city’s police force. De Blasio (D) noted that their deeply controversial behavior not only undermined democratic systems, but it also violated an individual’s basic civil liberties. De Blasio noted, “A lot of us have watched in pain what’s been going on in Portland, Oregon, and the fact that you see federal agents, federal officers, federal troops, clearly doing inappropriate things meant to undermine our democratic process. That’s just thoroughly unacceptable…This is not Portland.”
solidarity for nikki means not just denouncing the means of arrest, but supporting her alleged crime: non-violent civil disobedience for covering NYPD cameras surveilling a demonstrationhttps://t.co/wiAjV6t2YK
— ☭🕷️🐬The 📉 Antifada🐬🕷️☭ (@the_antifada) July 29, 2020
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) also commented on the incident, “Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill.” Ocasio-Cortez firmly stated that “There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.”
Our civil liberties are on brink.
This is not a drill. There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.
To not protect our rights is to give them away. It is our responsibility to resist authoritarianism. https://t.co/pw20WF05KK
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 29, 2020
Following the incident, the NYPD maintained that the arrest was aboveboard. Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison shared a video depicting a female protester spray painting security cameras. The video clip was relatively unclear and the NYPD could not confirm whether the female featured in the clip was in fact Stone.
The NYPD’s explanation does not fit with what’s shown in multiple videos recorded by eyewitnesses–videos which don’t show any bottles, rocks, or police identifying themselves in any way before grabbing Nikki off the street. Also: “damaging” with stickers? https://t.co/WyFVZlUrpO
— Naomi Clark 暗悪直美 #blacklivesmatter (@metasynthie) July 29, 2020
This incident is further nurturing a culture of fear and skepticism. Many members of the public are stepping forward to condemn the actions of the police. Local law enforcement entities expected to promote security and safety are arguably perpetuating alarm and apprehension. We anxiously await additional answers from the NYPD.