AOC demands visibility over video of unmarked NYPD van ‘snatching’ woman at peaceful protest
The warnings come on the heels of her introducing legislation alongside Rep. Ted Lieu banning federal funds for sending agents to cities.
Early Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) confronted the New York Police Department, after a video surfaced of the NYPD forcing a protester into an unmarked van at a peaceful protest.
In addition to the unmarked van, officers further masked their identities by wearing plainclothes and no badges.
“Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill. There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans,” wrote AOC on Twitter.
“To not protect our rights is to give them away. It is our responsibility to resist authoritarianism,” she continued
This was in response to a tweet by the ACLU showing a video depicting chaos on the streets of New York City. Police officers arrived to the crowd of protestors in an unmarked grey van and suddenly stopped to snatch a protester into the van and drove away.
Our civil liberties are on brink.
This is not a drill. There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.
To not protect our rights is to give them away. It is our responsibility to resist authoritarianism. https://t.co/pw20WF05KK
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 29, 2020
The video, which now has nearly two million views, has sparked outrage online, hearkening back to last week's brutal confrontations in Portland, where unmarked police officers were captured detaining protesters, even going as far as tear-gassing the mayor of Portland himself.
First-hand accounts say the arrested individual was a trans femme at a peaceful protest. AOC’s warning coincided with tens of thousands of people tweeting the hashtag “#WhereIsNikki,” demanding to know what happened to the woman in question.
Wednesday morning, Carlina Rivera, Councilwoman for New York’s 2nd district confirmed 18-year-old trans woman Nikki Stone had been released, thanking all the advocates who brought the distressing situation to the spotlight.
Like AOC, Rivera wants answers.
“Now it’s time to hear from [the NYC Mayor] about how he will address this arrest and the future of unidentifiable policing in NYC,” she wrote on Twitter.
We’ve just received confirmation that Nikki has been released. Thank you to all the advocates who have been bringing support and attention. Now it’s time to hear from @NYCMayor about how he will address this arrest and the future of unidentifiable policing in NYC.
— Carlina Rivera 利華娜 (@CarlinaRivera) July 29, 2020
In an earlier tweet, Rivera said what the NYPD did in the video was a “massive overstep,” saying she is exploring legislation.
The NYPD confirmed what happened in the video in a statement.
“A woman was taken into custody in an unmarked van was wanted for damaging police cameras during 5 separate criminal incidents in & around City Hall Park,” it said.
The NYPD then said the arresting officers were met with rocks and bottles.
“The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects,” the statement continued.
But the uproar is not over a warranted arrest.
Perhaps if the NYPD doesn’t want uproar, they should wear a uniform, not plainclothes, and a badge instead of inciting fear. With no way of knowing who is law enforcement, the NYPD is taking after Portland.
AOC’s warnings of this blatant authoritarianism comes on the heels of an amendment she introduced with Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) which would prohibit funds from being used to send federal agents into American cities.
While the Trump administration continues to illustrate these secret police efforts as a means of helping local officials fight a surge of violent crime, critics have called-out these tactics to have fascist qualities.
“Federal law enforcement officers are snatching Americans off of street corners and placing them into unmarked cars for the ‘crime’ of exercising their First Amendment rights,” AOC said in a statement.
AOC continued, commenting on Attorney General William Bar’s policies that have let white supremacists exert their First Amendment rights while clearly inciting violence, meanwhile Black and communities of color are met with police force and chemical warfare.
“The United States of America should not have secret police. The idea that these federal law enforcement officers are there to protect Americans is a farce. In his testimony today, Attorney General Bill Barr made clear once again that his only priority is to reelect the President, not to protect the American people,” she said.