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Cuomo, de Blasio slam NYPD for arrest of transgender woman placed in unmarked van

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the chorus of lawmakers slamming the arrest of a transgender woman and placing her in an unmarked minivan during a protest.

Nikki Stone, 18, was arrested Tuesday on East 25th Street in Manhattan during a protest about the closure of the encampment at City Hall Park last week. Stone is accused of damaging police cameras at the park, said police.

In the video, she is seen being placed in a gray van by plainclothes officers near Second Avenue. Outrage online compared it to covert tactics used recently by federal agents in Portland, Oregon.

Stone was one of 12 protesters arrested on Manhattan's East Side. She is charged with criminal mischief and making graffiti stemming from five different incidents in June and July. She was released after midnight with a desk appearance ticket.

"The video was very disturbing and frightening," said Cuomo during a news conference Wednesday. "I'm surprised at this time that the NYPD would take such an obnoxious action. It was wholly insensitive to what is going on."

Mayor Bill de Blasio was asked about the arrest during his daily briefing from City Hall.

"I think it was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest."

Rep. Jerry Nadler was among the politicians who weighed in on the arrest via Twitter.

"This video—of a protester in New York City being thrown in an unmarked van—is terrifying and should be unacceptable to everyone who respects the constitutional rights this country was founded on. There must be an immediate explanation for this anonymous use of force.

The NYPD said its Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate suspects. When officers took Stone into custody, they say they were attacked with rocks and bottles.

Lawmakers want answers about the use of the unmarked vehicle for the arrest.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams took to Twitter to say: "Concerned about what we are seeing in this video. Reaching to try and get some answers."

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera wrote "clearly we need an ind. review + an immediate explanation for why an unmarked van full of officers was anywhere near a peaceful protest."

Since the protests that started following the death of George Floyd, more than 300 NYPD vehicles have been damaged resulting in $1 million in damage.

In Portland, federal agents were accused of failing to properly identify themselves as they took people into custody, allegedly without probable cause. Those people were questioned and released.

“A lot of us have watched in pain what’s been going in in Portland, Oregon,” de Blasio said. “Anything that even slightly suggests that to me is troubling and it’s the kind of thing we don’t want to see in our city.”

The Police Benevolent Association, the union representing the city's police officers, tweeted that “politicians hurling hate at cops for daring to arrest a wanted criminal ... have surrendered our streets.” City Councilman Joe Borelli, a supporter of the police department, tweeted approval of the plainclothes tactics and derision for people upset by it.

“So excited to hear today’s hot takes on how someone shouldn’t be arrested despite having an arrest warrant, or should have been arrested in some other manner or by more fashion-conscious cops, or how police unmarked minivans are evil or something,” Borelli, a Republican wrote.

With the Associated Press 

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