NYPD defends arrest of protester by plainclothes cops

The NYPD claimed its officers were assaulted 'with rocks and bottles,' but protesters dispute this account.

NYPD investigate an ultra-orthodox man for abduction. (photo credit: REUTERS)
NYPD investigate an ultra-orthodox man for abduction.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The New York Police Department (NYPD) issued a statement in its defense after a video on Tuesday captured plainclothes officers bringing a protester into an unmarked vehicle during a protest.
The video showed the incident taking place during a march in Manhattan. In the footage, multiple officers grabbed the protester in a struggle. Other officers began trying to push the other protesters away.
The video quickly went viral, and immediately drew comparison to the tactics used by federal agents in Portland, Oregon, who have been arresting protesters in unmarked vehicles. These have raised concerns that the arrests are unlawful, which many local officials in Portland have claimed, USA Today reported.
According to a statement made by the NYPD over Twitter, the person taken into custody was suspected of damaging police cameras in no less than five separate incidents, and added that it was the NYPD Warrant Squad that took the suspect into custody.

"The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects," the NYPD said over Twitter.
The police further claimed over social media that its officers were assaulted "with rocks and bottles" by the demonstrators.
The arrested protester was identified by authorities as 18-year-old Nikki Stone, according to The Washington Post. However, this is disputed by Stone's friends, who referred to her as Nicki when speaking to a local news outlet Gothamist.
Stone's friends also disputed the NYPD's account of the incident.
"None of that happened whatsoever," 20-year-old Clara Kraebber told Gothamist. "We literally turned the corner and were met with a line of police who attacked us without warning."
According to Carlina Rivera, a city councilwoman representing where the arrest occurred, Stone was released from custody overnight.
However, she was also harshly critical of the NYPD.
"It’s clear that using an unmarked van and plainclothes officers to make an arrest for vandalism (in the middle of a peaceful protest) is a massive overstep," she tweeted, adding that "I'm exploring legislation."

Multiple local politicians and organizations condemned the arrest and the NYPD's conduct.
"Incredibly disturbing. We need answers," City Council Speaker Corey Johnson tweeted.

"These dangerous, abusive, and indefensible actions must stop," the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) tweeted. "Law enforcement must be held accountable."
"Our civil liberties are on [the] brink," tweeted Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "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."

Taking to Twitter, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison wrote that the NYPD "welcomes peaceful protests.
"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 similarities to the incidents in Portland come after US President Donald Trump had threatened to send federal agents to other cities throughout the US, which prompted backlash from local politicians. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had threatened to take the president to court should he send agents to the city.
Reuters contributed to this report.