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Video of plainclothes NYPD pulling protester into unmarked van goes viral

NYPD patrol car (Pete Stewart/WikiCommons)
July 29, 2020

Members of the New York City Police Department were videotaped grabbing protesters off the street and pulling them into a gray minivan in a Tuesday incident that has since gone viral.

Plainclothes NYPD officers were seen grabbing a protester and pulling them into the van as additional plainclothes officers and then uniformed officers on bicycles surround the van, blocking other protesters as the unmarked police vehicle drove away.

“A #BLM protest leader was grabbed by NYPD cops and thrown into an unmarked van at today’s Abolition Park protest! That peaceful protestor was allegedly suspected of … putting stickers on police cameras?,” tweeted attorney Ben Crump, who recently began representing the family of George Floyd in a civil rights case following Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May.

The incident saw similarities to a recent video in which federal officers in camouflage uniforms grabbed a protester off the street in Portland, Oregon and placed them in a similar undercover gray van. The controversial Portland arrest video has brought on other complaints about the use of federal law enforcement officers to defend a federal courthouse damaged by persistent rioting in recent weeks.

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The NYPD defended the arrest tactics in a series of tweets Tuesday and claimed the woman taken into custody was wanted for damaging police cameras on five different incidents.

“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.

“When officers from the Warrant Squad took the woman into custody in a gray NYPD minivan this evening, they were assaulted with rocks and bottles. The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects,” the NYPD statement continued. “When she was placed into the Warrant Squad’s unmarked gray minivan, it was behind a cordon of NYPD bicycle cops in bright yellow and blue uniform shirts there to help effect the arrest.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) criticized the arrest tactics in a tweet.

“Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill,” she said. “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.”