Plainclothes Cops Caught Dragging Protester Into Unmarked Van In New York
Concerning footage has emerged from New York appearing to show plainclothes police officers dragging a protester into an unmarked van.
The footage in question was taken in east Manhattan, and shows a female protester being placed into a minivan on a busy street in broad daylight.
Many people can be seen gathering around as the incident unfolds, shouting in protest as they are prevented from getting near by other officers on bikes. One plainclothes officer can be heard yelling at onlookers to ‘step back’ as the woman was dragged into the vehicle.
The video was shared by Michelle Lhooq, an LA-based counterculture journalist and author who covers protests and autonomous zones.
Taking to Twitter, Lhooq described the person taken into custody was a ‘trans femme protester’ who had been attending the Abolition Park protest. The arrest took place at 2nd Avenue and 25th Street, after the woman was apparently wanted for five ‘separate criminal incidents’.
The footage has since been shared by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), with the organisation describing the incident as ‘dangerous, abusive, and indefensible’.
Retweeting the video, the ACLU stated that ‘Law enforcement must be held accountable’, a view which has been echoed by many of those concerned about the ongoing issue of police brutality in the US.
Among those tweeting about the incident was congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who wrote:
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.
Meanwhile, New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson stated that the arrest was ‘incredibly disturbing’, demanding answers.
The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has since released a statement in response to the incident, writing:
In regard to a video on social media that took place at 2 Ave & 25 St, 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. The arresting officers were assaulted with rocks & bottles.
Lhooq reported that protesters told her that the woman – who has since been named as ‘Nikki’ – had been placing stickers on cameras at Occupy City Hall. She is said to be 18 years old and homeless.
A GoFundMe page has since been set up for Nikki, who also goes by the nickname ‘Stickers’.
The page described Nikki as ‘a passionate woman who brings joy and comfort to all those who she surrounds, and she is dedicated to helping those in her community’.
Funding will go towards helping Nikki with her current housing needs, with the page having raised more than $18,000 at the time of writing.
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CreditsACLU/Twitter and 4 others