Life apparently came to an end Tuesday when an individual was tackled to a New York City street and pulled into an unmarked van as NYPD officers appeared and kept outraged protesters away from the scene.
MSNBC’s Chris Hayes called it a “kidnapping”:
Outspoken Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was wringing her hands about it, too, tweeting that “our civil liberties are on the brink,” and that it’s “our responsibility to resist authoritarianism”:
What actually went down?
Thing is, the individual was taken into custody for allegedly damaging police cameras during five separate incidents in and around City Hall Park, NYPD officials
told WPIX-TV. Police told the station that arresting officers were assaulted with rocks and bottles, too.
Police charged Nicholas Stone with criminal mischief, WPIX said, but friends said the 18-year-old — a transgender woman — goes by Nikki. Cops added to the station that Stone was released with a desk appearance ticket.
Image source: YouTube screenshot
As it happens, NBC News correspondent Tom Winter — whose specialty is police and counter-terrorism — gave colleague Hayes a bit of a wake-up call regarding the street scoop:
“It could also be undercover detectives from a warrant squad making an arrest with probable cause for someone wanted for 5 specific crimes wearing visible weapons and vests in a car immediately surrounded by uniformed police officers with NYPD written on the back,” Winter wrote.
And Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison tweeted video Wednesday morning purportedly showing the suspect damaging NYPD cameras on at least three separate occasions, WPIX said.
“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.”
Ed Morrissey of
HotAir offered the following take:
The tactics used in making this arrest are not all that unusual — and to the extent they are, those are forced on the NYPD in the circumstances of the unrest. People with warrants out who aren’t inclined to turn themselves in watch for uniformed police to avoid arrest. Some police departments use warrant squads in plainclothes and unmarked cars in order to execute warrants more successfully. They go to residences, places of work, and at times to places where suspects are known to hang out in order to serve the warrants and arrest the suspects.
The fact that this woman was apparently known to be in protest crowds required a different set of tactics. To keep the officers safe, they had to arrest her quickly and get her into the vehicle before other protesters could assault them. To walk up and announce themselves and try to make an arrest would invite mob action and prevent the arrest — and in this case, mob action nearly succeeded anyway. That is why they had uniformed backup, and that turned out to be a very wise choice.
Still, WPIX said critics compared it to arrests in Portland, where federal agents were caught on video putting demonstrators in unmarked vehicles and driving off.
Mayor Bill de Blasio told the station that no federal agents were involved, but 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 added, according to WPIX.
NYPD pull woman into unmarked van at protest in Manhattan