It’s likely only a matter of time before the federal agents stoking violence in Portland come to New York City. But their violent tactics have already arrived.
On Tuesday night, NYPD’s “warrant squad” interrupted a peaceful protest to arrest Nikki Stone, an 18-year-old trans woman, for allegedly spray painting over police camera lenses. NYPD officers pulled up in an unmarked van, snatched Stone off her skateboard, and pepper sprayed fellow protestors trying to help her before driving off. Video of the incident quickly went viral, immediately reminding onlookers of Portland protestors hauled off in unmarked vans without cause.
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
NYPD attempted to defend itself by explaining that Stone was wanted for damaging police property. The charge against Stone was a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) which is routinely issued for misdemeanor offenses. But the NYPD’s response wasn’t anywhere near commensurate to a misdemeanor charge. A wider shot of the video underscores just how unnecessarily abrupt and forceful the detainment was.
@nypd The protesters were being completely peaceful. No one was throwing rocks or water bottles as you claim. This is my view of the kidnapping. #FindStickers #whereisnikki #blm #BlackLivesMatter #nyc #PoliceBrutality pic.twitter.com/MQsARBUEYg
— Kyle (@KyleLandrySax) July 29, 2020
Stone’s arrest was purposely violent. It was meant to evoke images of badgeless federal agents in Portland and serve as an example of how far NYPD is willing to go. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded fecklessly by saying the arrest was executed in the “wrong place” at the “wrong time,” which goes without saying. It doesn’t matter that, as de Blasio noted, there were no federal officers involved. They inspired the violence, emboldened by Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who have only promised more and taken things further; DHS, according to ProPublica, is compiling intelligence on journalists and (illegally) making arrested demonstrators pledge not to attend further protests as a condition of their release.
New York hasn’t seen the last of these federal tactics or this level of police brutality. People in overpoliced Black and brown communities will tell you it’s been going on for years. But watching an excessively forceful arrest of a teenager in broad daylight on a crowded street during a peaceful protest signals an escalation, as well as a shift in intent. It’s full-on fascistic violence, and the NYPD wanted us to see it.