A viral video of New York City police officers dragging a protester off the street during a demonstration Tuesday raises new concerns about policing in America. In the video, plainclothes officers grabbed a demonstrator in the middle of an intersection and, in broad daylight, wrestled her into an unmarked van. CBS New York reports that the 18-year-old woman was wanted for spray-painting the lenses of six police cameras. Other uniformed officers with bicycles also intervened during the arrest.
The startling scene in New York is reminiscent of the situation in Portland, Oregon, where menacing, militarized federal officers have been patrolling protests in the city. One difference is that in New York, the officers were part of the New York Police Department, not deployed by the Department of Homeland Security. The NYPD confirmed the arrest and said the officers were part of its warrant squad, which uses unmarked vans to locate people involved in crimes. “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 statement said. “The arresting officers were assaulted with rocks & bottles.”