A new video of NYPD officers violently shoving a transgender protester into an unmarked van has drawn widespread condemnation online, with people calling the incident a “kidnapping.”
The incident happened Tuesday in Manhattan, during one of the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality that continue to come in waves across the country.
Shocking video of the incident shows an intense escalation in police aggression toward protesters, similar to what has been seen recently in Portland, Oregon.
WARNING: video contains NSFW language and disturbing images
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
The video shows plainclothes police shoving the protester into an unmarked Kia van, aided by officers in yellow vests.
The protester has been identified by her friends as an 18-year-old homeless trans woman named Nicki, who was one of the leaders of the protest. She was taken at 2nd Avenue and 25th Street in Manhattan. It is not known where she is at this time.
Speaking to Gothamist, a 32-year-old protester and eye witness named Derrick described the secrecy and aggression from the NYPD.
“…there was an unmarked grey van that moved out in front of us that had been waiting for us…”
They grabbed Nicki like she was a rag doll…They had her arms on her neck and then they drove off.”
“They’re targeting our leaders. That’s what’s going to happen now.”
NYPD officials stated the woman was arrested for five incidents of damaging surveillance cameras in City Hall Park.
They also claimed they were assaulted with rocks and bottles while making the arrest, but witnesses like 20-year-old Clara Kraebber, who also spoke with Gothamist, have called that accusation a lie.
“None of that happened whatsoever. We literally turned the corner and were met with a line of police who attacked us without warning.”
On social media, everyone from private citizens to members of Congress were outraged by the aggression seen in the video.
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. https://t.co/pw20WF05KK
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 29, 2020
this is…kidnapping https://t.co/iT7SDb5RWx
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 28, 2020
Agree with @CarlinaRivera here: with anxiety about what’s happening in Portland, the NYPD deploying unmarked vans with plainclothes cops to make street arrests of protestors feels more like provocation than public safety. https://t.co/UDfiJOWWUW
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) July 29, 2020
Incredibly disturbing. We need answers. https://t.co/LBCzbjpbtW
— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) July 29, 2020
This is deeply troubling. Plainclothes NYPD officers yanked a protester off the street — identified by her friends as an 18-year old homeless trans person. Where is she? #WhereIsNikki
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) July 29, 2020
nypd is out here KIDNAPPING protesters off of the street pic.twitter.com/LCCBj0Ipp8
— Natalie (@Naddleez) July 28, 2020
The truth is that America is collapsing.
— Please Be Smarter (@messedupworthy) July 29, 2020
next time i want to kidnap people i'm just going to get a few dudes and a rental care and grab the person off the street and I don't think anyone will notice.
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) July 29, 2020
There is ZERO reason not to at least read them Miranda rights and detain or arrest in a "legal" way. This is all just vicious intimidation tactics meant to scare everyone from protesting
— Michael Tanuvasa (@MichaelTanuvasa) July 29, 2020
Where are the rocks and bottles being thrown?!?
— Glibby Glop Glooby (@Glibee_G_Gloob) July 29, 2020
the person being kidnapped is a trans woman and it is unknown where she currently is, she is in danger! #FindStickers
— Natalie (@Naddleez) July 29, 2020
In a statement, The New York Civil Liberties Union, which is New York’s state affiliate of the ACLU, called the NYPD’s behavior “horrifying and indefensible.”
“… violently forcing protesters into an unmarked van are the actions of a police force that think they can act with impunity. We won’t allow this in our city.”
The group has launched a formal investigation of the incident.