#WhereIsNikki Protester Freed Following NYPD Unmarked Vehicle Arrest

A Black Lives Matter protester whose arrest in New York sparked outrage on social media after she was thrown into the back of an unmarked vehicle has been released from custody.

The protester, identified as 18-year-old trans woman Nikki Stone, was filmed being detained during a demonstration in Second Avenue and 25th Street in Kips Bay on Tuesday.

Several NYPD officers can be seen restraining Stone as she rode past on a skateboard. The officers then yell "get back" as other protesters crowd round while they put the 18-year-old into an unmarked gray minivan.

The clip was widely shared and viewed more than six million times on social media.

Twitter users accused NYPD of abducting or kidnapping Stone, while others compared it to recent incidents in Portland, Oregon, where unidentifiable agents were seen using excessive force and manhandling protesters into unmarked vehicles.

"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," tweeted Rep. Jerry Nadler. "There must be an immediate explanation for this anonymous use of force."

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez tweeted: "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."

LGBTQ civil rights organization Human Rights Campaign tweeted: "This is deeply troubling. Plainclothes NYPD officers yanked a protester off the street — identified by her friends as an 18-year old homeless trans person. Where is she?"

BREAKING: We're receiving reports that at least one protester was abducted off the streets today by unmarked “officers” — this time in New York City.

These dangerous, abusive, and indefensible actions must stop. Law enforcement must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/I9VQo4Tvbx

— ACLU (@ACLU) July 29, 2020

NYC is taking after Portland - a trans femme protestor was pulled into an unmarked van at the Abolition Park protest - this was at 2nd Ave and 25th Street pic.twitter.com/1PDhSYuK9h

— michelle lh࿊࿊q (@MichelleLhooq) July 28, 2020

After the video emerged, tens of thousands of people tweeted using the #WhereIsNikki hashtag on Twitter, making it one of the top trending topics on the social media site.

Carlina Rivera, Councilwoman for the 2nd district of the New York City Council, said that Stone was released from police custody in the early hours of Wednesday.

"We've just received confirmation that Nikki has been released. Thank you to all the advocates who have been bringing support and attention," Rivera tweeted. "Now it's time to hear from @NYCMayor [Bill de Blasio] about how he will address this arrest and the future of unidentifiable policing in NYC."

In a statement, the NYPD defended the detainment of the protester as she was accused of a number of vandalism offenses. The department said officers were also hit with missiles during the arrest.

"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," the force tweeted.

"When officers from the Warrant Squad took the woman into custody in a gray NYPD minivan this evening, they were assaulted with rocks and bottles. The Warrant Squad uses unmarked vehicles to effectively locate wanted suspects.

"When she was placed into the Warrant Squad's unmarked gray minivan, it was behind a cordon of NYPD bicycle cops in bright yellow and blue uniform shirts there to help effect the arrest."

Close-up view from behind of the helmet of a New York Police Department (NYPD) riot police officer, November 24, 2016. The NYPD has defended a controversial arrest of a BLM protester after a video sparked outrage on social media. EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty