New York City police officers, several in plain clothes, joined a demonstration on Tuesday against aggressive police tactics and detained a protester they seemed to single out before taking a ride in an unmarked minibus.
Videos of the meeting on social media have received harsh criticism, including allegations that New York City police are using tactics similar to those used by federal agents during recent protests in Portland, Ore, where some people were being pulled into unmarked vans.
The police department said in a statement that warrant officers had taken the woman into custody for “damaging police cameras during five separate crimes in and around City Hall,”; a clear reference to incidents that took place during the Occupied City Hall protests. Police did not immediately provide information about those events. According to the police department, the arrest took place on Second Avenue and East 25th Street in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan.
The platoon of orders typically uses unmarked vehicles to locate people wanted for crime, police said. Police did not name the woman, but said she was charged.
Although police indicated that they were subject to a standard procedure, the incident occurs at a time when law enforcement practices are being closely monitored. Several city officials said Tuesday they were bothered by videos of the woman’s arrest and publicly demanded a more detailed explanation from the Police Department.
Corey Johnson, a city council speaker, called the meeting video “extremely disturbing.” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said he was “very concerned.”
Brooklyn council member Brad Lander said “anxiety about what’s happening in Portland, with the NYPD deploying unmarked vans with plain clothes for police officers to arrest protesters on the street, feels more like a provocation than public safety.”
On Tuesday evening, a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio handed over questions about the woman’s arrest to a report from the Police Department.
Tuesday’s arrest was the last flash in a nationwide conversation about aggressive police tactics. In the weeks since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, people across the city have staged protests against police brutality and racism in the criminal justice system.
A protest in which the woman was arrested on Tuesday was in response to a cleaned-up camp at City Hall City Hall last week, organizers said.
The Occupy City Hall demonstration itself, which began on June 23, when about 100 people set up camp on a small grass patch east of the city hall, was aimed at putting pressure on the city council to cut funding for the Police Department.
Many of the demonstration people went home a few days after the council finally decided to give up police for nearly a billion dollars, even though the move did not live up to the expectations of many protesters. After the camp had been cleared last week, the homeless arrived for free meals and open-air camping.
In Portland, the tactics used by federal agents have sparked renewed protests across the country. Some agents, adorned with camouflage and tactical equipment, sprayed tear gas on the protesters, while others pulled them into unmarked vans.
Juliana Kim contributed to the reports.