Prominent Democrats and media pundits rushed to claim that a standard-procedure arrest of a “trans femme protestor” by undercover cops in NYC was a “kidnapping,” despite the presence of clearly-marked NYPD officers at the scene and the subsequent release of the suspect.
Nicholas Stone, an 18-year-old male who identifies as a woman, was arrested for criminal mischief and making graffiti five separate times over the last two months, the police said.
Video of the incident shows Stone, while riding on a skateboard, being apprehended by plainclothes officers in an unmarked minivan, with NYPD bike officers creating a perimeter to keep protestors from interfering in the arrest. In a public statement, the NYPD clarified that its warrant squad arrested Stone in connection to “damaging police cameras during 5 separate criminal incidents in & around City Hall Park.”
On Wednesday, Detective Chief Rodney Harrison tweeted out an alleged video of Stone damaging police cameras, saying “damage to NYPD technology that helps keep this city safe will never be tolerated.”
The #NYPD welcomes peaceful protests.
However, damage to NYPD technology that helps keep this city safe will never be tolerated. These cameras are vital resources which help prevent and solve crimes throughout the city. pic.twitter.com/dwv5vkhQiP
— Chief Rodney Harrison (@NYPDDetectives) July 29, 2020
The NYPD also explained that the arrest was standard procedure, saying that “the Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects.”
In a statement to National Review, the police added that it made 11 additional arrests at the scene — 10 males and one female — for “obstructing governmental administration related offenses” and criminal mischief. All received Desk Appearance Tickets to return to court at a later date.
Paul DiGiacomo, president of the New York Detectives Endowment Association, told National Review that the arrest was “100 percent by the book” and that warrant-squad detectives “always” conduct their operations in plain clothes.
“They waited, they identified that person in the crowd, they waited until the person moved to another area, where they thought it would be safe to effect the arrest . . . they moved in and effected the arrest without incident,” Giacomo said in a phone interview. He added that Stone was released approximately four hours after being taken into custody.
But videos of the incident drew outrage and unfounded accusations. The most viral video of the incident compared the case to the situation in Portland, where federal agents have attempted to protect the federal courthouse from violent agitators.
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler (D., N.Y.) called the “terrifying and unacceptable” arrest an “anonymous use of force.”
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. https://t.co/mwAYknRLnz
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) July 29, 2020
Former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro warned that “New Yorkers . . . are being abducted by unidentified officers and thrown in unmarked vans.”
Representative Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) slammed the NYPD for “police-state tactics” and its “kidnapping protesters into unmarked cars in broad daylight.”
After MSNBC host Chris Hayes described the arrest as a “kidnapping,” the characterization drew clarification from NBC reporter Tom Winter.
It could also be undercover detectives from a warrant squad making an arrest with probable cause for someone wanted for 5 specific crimes wearing visible weapons and vests in a car immediately surrounded by uniformed police officers with NYPD written on the back. https://t.co/CsKt5QMSmZ
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) July 29, 2020
Winter confirmed the NYPD’s account that the arrest followed standard procedure, saying in a further comment that the video matched his experience of “having actually gone out and seen NYPD undercover warrant squads make arrests before.”
After the hashtag “#WhereIsNikki” had trended on Twitter, New York City councilwoman Carlina Rivera tweeted early Wednesday that Stone had been released from custody. As of Wednesday morning, Nadler, Castro, Hayes, and Maloney had not publicly acknowledged that their initial characterizations of the incident were misguided.