NYC protest arrest using unmarked van was ‘wrong time and the wrong place’: mayor

Video appears to show person pulled into an unmarked minivan at Manhattan protest.png

Video appears to show someone pulled into a minivan at a Manhattan protest on July 28, 2020 (Credit: Twitter/Naddleez)

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MANHATTAN, N.Y. — A controversial protest arrest on Tuesday involving an unmarked minivan should not have happened the way it did, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday.

The mayor, speaking during a coronavirus briefing, called the arrest “troubling” and “not something we want to see.”

Video of the arrest shows a woman being pulled into an unmarked minivan as NYPD officers kept protesters from interfering. A man in an orange shirt with “Warrant Squad” written across the back is seen getting into the front passenger seat before the minivan drives off.

Video shows only one person was placed into the minivan, but several people were arrested at the protest near East 25th Street and Second Avenue in Manhattan.

The woman was taken into custody because she allegedly damaged police cameras during five separate incidents in and around City Hall Park, NYPD officials said. Police said the arresting officers were assaulted with rocks and bottles.

Police charged the woman with criminal mischief. The NYPD identified her as Nicholas Stone, but friends said the 18-year-old — a transgender woman — went by Nikki.

According to police, she was released with a desk appearance ticket.

Critics drew comparisons to protest arrests in Portland, where federal agents were caught on video putting demonstrators in unmarked vehicles and driving off.

The mayor said there were no federal agents involved, but added that it was “the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest.”

“I’ll talk to the commissioner more about this today but I think there’s a better way to get that done,” he said.

De Blasio also noted that the arrest was for allegedly damaging police property.

“My message to everyone: If you’re out there protesting, protest peacefully,” he said.

Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted a compilation video Wednesday morning purportedly showing the woman damaging NYPD cameras on at least three separate occasions.

“The #NYPD welcomes peaceful protests,” Harrison tweeted. “However, damage to NYPD technology that helps keep this city safe will never be tolerated. These cameras are vital resources which help prevent and solve crimes throughout the city.”

The NYPD’s Warrant Squads have apprehended 27 people for criminal mischief crimes since June 1, according to Harrison.

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