UPDATED 7/29 12:20 p.m. ET: Carlina Rivera, who represents the 2nd district of the NYC Council, confirmed overnight that Nikki has now been released. In a tweeted statement, she thanked advocates for their support and for bringing attention to this instance of "unidentifiable policing." She also called on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to address the arrest:
Prior to confirming the release, Rivera called the use of unmarked vans and plainclothes officers "in the middle of a peaceful protest" a "massive overstep." Legislation, she added, is being explored.
Bill de Blasio spoke on the incident in a daily briefing, saying the arrest was for damaging police property and that "it was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest."
See original story below.
On Tuesday afternoon a Black Lives Matter protester was grabbed by undercover NYPD cops and thrown into an unmarked van. The encounter, which reportedly occurred a little before 6 p.m. was captured on video by journalist Michelle Hooq and has since been circulating around social media.
NYC is taking after Portland - a trans femme protestor was pulled into an unmarked van at the Abolition Park protest - this was at 2nd Ave and 25th Street pic.twitter.com/1PDhSYuK9h— michelle lh࿊࿊q (@MichelleLhooq) July 28, 2020
Police are alleging that the person thrown into the van was suspected of "damaging police cameras during five separate criminal incidents."
An 18-year-old trans girl who organized a peaceful protest was just kidnapped by NYPD officers in an unmarked van. She's allegedly suspected of... wait for it... putting stickers on police cameras? #whereisnikki, @NYCMayor? We demand her immediate release. https://t.co/f2uhAUIRrL— Naomi Clark 暗悪直美 #blacklivesmatter (@metasynthie) July 29, 2020
The NYPD addressed the incident on social media, saying that the woman was arrested by Warrant Squad officers in Manhattans' Kips Bay neighborhood. They also said they used unmarked cars "to effectively locate wanted suspects." Police also reportedly used pepper spray on protesters.
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.— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 29, 2020
Gothamist reports that the person that was arrested is named Nicki and is an 18-year-old trans woman.
"Four guys jumped out and a line of police bicycles came out from down the block — we hadn't seen them," a protester who witnessed the incident told Gothamist. "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." The 32-year-old man, who's name is Derrick, continued, "They're targeting our leaders... That's what's going to happen now."
People have taken to social media to blast the NYPD for the arrest. Many have compared what happened in NYC to Portland, Oregon, where unidentified federal agents arrested Black Lives Matter protesters and forced them into vans.
I didn't want to go too viral with this video until we knew more, but apparently it is authentic and what we are seeing did happen: the NYPD just basically did what Trump's storm troopers did in Portland - shoving someone into an unmarked van. What country are we living in? https://t.co/FrWeguu2YA— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) July 29, 2020
nypd is out here KIDNAPPING protesters off of the street pic.twitter.com/LCCBj0Ipp8— Natalie (@Naddleez) July 28, 2020
So a woman was not read her rights and snatched off the street into an unmarked vehicle for an “alleged” crime? FUCK THE NYPD! https://t.co/OSQX3RQt9N— Linduh Evangelista (@marcuslmorris) July 29, 2020
The NYPD descended on a peaceful protest, and threw an organizer in this unmarked van. This is so terrifying and beyond unacceptable https://t.co/PC7Fijepnh— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) July 28, 2020
Elected NY officials also commented on the arrest and called for an investigation.
Concerned about what we are seeing in this video. Reaching to try and get some answers https://t.co/uhtQGMKIwE— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) July 29, 2020
Incredibly disturbing. We need answers. https://t.co/LBCzbjpbtW— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) July 29, 2020
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."— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) July 29, 2020
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
We can all see what’s going on here.— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) July 29, 2020
We can hear no one identify themselves to tell the person you abducted what they were being arrested for.
The @NYPDnews is fabricating charges of rocks and water bottles being thrown in real time when there are multiple video angles. https://t.co/IescOlzxFc
Gothamist reports that the protesters eventually made their way to Madison Square Park and encountered police with riot shields who arrested some demonstrators.
They just rushed us, tackled us, maced us, beat us with batons. We fell back and they followed us to Madison Square Park and did it again. Violent arrests made. We were marching. That’s it. pic.twitter.com/Niiv1fBzl6— Rebecca Bulnes (@AlmondMilkHotel) July 28, 2020