New York Police Department officers stand in formation after arresting multiple protesters marching after curfew on Fifth Avenue, Thursday, June 4, 2020, in New York. Protests continued following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on May 25.
(The Center Square) – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday that the city’s police force did not properly handle a situation caught on video by onlookers Tuesday.
In the video, which has since gone viral, plainclothes New York City Police officers are seen apprehending a woman and forcing her into an unmarked van. As others rushed toward the vehicle, uniformed NYPD officers swarmed in, using bicycles to shield the officers making the arrest.
NBC News reported the person detained was Nikki Stone, 18, who an NYPD spokesperson said was wanted for damaging multiple police cameras.
The video drew parallels to incidents in Portland, Ore., where unidentified federal law enforcement officers rounded up suspects in unmarked vehicles. It’s a tactic de Blasio decried just last week.
During his news conference Wednesday, de Blasio said the arrest was made by a “warrant squad” within the department that does not approach in marked cars or with sirens wailing. However, he did concede the arrest should have been handled better.
On Thursday, de Blasio elaborated that he spoke with Commissioner Dermot Shea shortly after the video hit social media, and they spoke again on Wednesday.
“We would never allow anything like that here,” the mayor said, again alluding to Portland. “At the same time when people commit offenses, when they vandalize public property, there will be a consequence, but it was not done the right way. I certainly expressed that to him, and we’re going to work on trying to find a better way going forward.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, unsolicited, ended his briefing Wednesday with reporters saying he was disturbed by the video and called the NYPD’s actions “obnoxious.”
“It’s emblematic of the larger problem,” Cuomo said. “We have to repair the relationship between the police and the community at large. It does not work without trust and respect, period. And we don’t have mutual trust and respect.”
Last month, after protests against police violence and law enforcement’s reaction to those demonstrations in the state, Cuomo signed a series of bills into law that reformed police practices. In addition, he called on all counties and localities with police departments to codify local changes by April 1 or face the loss of state funding.
To accomplish those changes, Cuomo said, local leaders need to bring the community, law enforcement and other stakeholders together to determine how to protect and serve their jurisdictions moving forward.