The New York City Police Department has come under scrutiny after videos showed officers pulling a protester into an unmarked van during a demonstration Tuesday in Manhattan against racism and police brutality.
The Gothamist, citing the protester’s friends, identified her as an 18-year-old transgender woman. Videos shared on social media show the demonstrator being restrained by several NYPD officers before being pulled into the van.
“They grabbed [her] like she was rag doll,” a protester and witness told The Gothamist. “They had her arms on her neck and then they drove off.”
The NYPD said in a statement that the woman had been arrested after “damaging police cameras during 5 separate criminal incidents” in and around City Hall Park.
It added that the arresting officers were “assaulted with rocks and bottles” as they took the woman into custody.
Protesters told journalist Michelle Lhooq, who was at the scene, that the woman had put stickers on police cameras during Occupy City Hall, a weeks-long protest occupation that was dismantled last week in a police raid.
Protesters said police used pepper spray and batons against them.
Several city officials have since questioned the NYPD’s handling of the woman’s arrest.
Council member Carlina Rivera called for an independent review of the incident, and the city’s comptroller, Scott Stringer, said he was “deeply concerned” by videos of the encounter.
“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,” Councilman Brad Lander said, alluding to similar tactics used by federal officers against protesters in Oregon.
Rivera said on Tuesday night that the protester had been fingerprinted by police and was expected to be released “in next hour or so.”