Bystander videos showing 18-year-old Nikki Stone’s arrest went viral earlier this week after many believed that tactics being used by federal agents in Portland, Ore., had made their way to New York City. The video shows officers snatching Stone off her skateboard at a protest and ushering her into an unmarked minivan. When protesters tried to get close, uniformed NYPD officers came and created a blockade with their bikes.
“CAN ANYONE CONFIRM WHATS GOING ON HERE?” Milano tweeted along with one of the bystanders’ videos. “It looks like #TrumpsGestapo kidnapping protestors. I’m sorry for putting out something that hasn’t been verified but this seems like it’s important to get out there.”
Like many, Milano’s tweet implies she’s under the impression that the officers were federal agents amid heightened sensitivity to protesters in Portland. being scooped up into unmarked cars. However, the NYPD later issued a statement explaining that the arrest was conducted by members of its Warrant Squad.
“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,” the statement reads. “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 statement concluded: “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.”
However, witnesses dispute some of the claims made by the NYPD.
Stone, identified by friends as a transgender activist who has been experiencing homelessness, was released from a police precinct around 1 a.m. Wednesday and ordered to return to court at a later date to face charges of criminal mischief and making graffiti stemming from five alleged incidents over the last two months.
On Wednesday, the department posted video it said showed Stone vandalizing cameras with paint and a broom.
As of this writing, Milano has neither publicly corrected nor removed her initial post calling the officers “#TrumpsGestapo.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo both criticized the NYPD for its decision to make such a sensitive arrest at a protest against police brutality.
“I’m surprised especially at this time, the NYPD would take such an obnoxious action,” Cuomo said. “It was wholly insensitive to everything that’s going on. It was frightening. And to me, it’s emblematic of the larger problem.”
During his daily press conference on Wednesday, de Blasio was asked why it was “specifically desirable” for the NYPD to make the arrest at the time and place that it was executed.
“It was not specifically desirable to do so,” he said, later adding: “I think it was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest … No one is allowed to damage police property. That is a real offense, that is an offense that can lead to an arrest, and my message to everyone: if you’re out there protesting, protest peacefully.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.