A video of a transgender woman captured and arrested in New York City by plainclothes police officers in an unmarked van surfaced online Tuesday. The incident has sparked nationwide outrage over police tactics.
Police arrested Nikki Stone, an 18-year-old transgender woman while she skateboarded past the intersection of 2nd Ave and 25th Street. The officers wore only t-shirts and khaki or navy blue shorts and fanny packs, and had no other outward characteristics to indicate they worked for law enforcement. The group of officers shoved Stone in a minivan where they arrested her.
Another angle of plainclothes officers pushing a protester into a minivan on 2nd Ave near 25th earlier tonight. "We were skateboarding and eating pizza," said one witness. "We didn't see where they came from. All of a sudden they grabbed Nicki. It was like a kidnapping." pic.twitter.com/rzymNjlVVo
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) July 29, 2020
Law enforcement released Stone on Wednesday morning, slapping her with several vandalism charges. Police suspect her of damaging surveillance cameras around the city. Stone has been very active in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“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,” police said in a statement.
Friends of Stone have already launched a GoFundMe campaign to pay for her legal costs. At the time of this writing, it has exceeded its $15,000 goal raking in more than $24,000.
Stone’s arrest comes at a precarious time for law enforcement, which has come under heavy criticism for violent police tactics and the shooting of unarmed citizens. That onus has been compounded with the announcement that the Trump Administration had authorized “secret police” to patrol the streets of Portland in disguise and arrest protesters without a warrant.