A Protester, an Unmarked N.Y.P.D. Van and a Viral Video


Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high in the low 90s. Chance of an afternoon thunderstorm.

Alternate-side parking: Suspended through Sunday.


The videos showing the arrest quickly went viral: New York City police officers, some in plain clothes, interrupted a peaceful march against police brutality on Tuesday and pulled a protester into an unmarked minivan.

On social media, people shared the video thousands of times and immediately compared the tactics they observed with those used by federal agents at protests in Portland, Ore.

With the “anxiety about what’s happening in Portland, the N.Y.P.D. deploying unmarked vans with plainclothes cops to make street arrests of protesters feels more like provocation than public safety,” Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn wrote on Twitter.

The Police Department said the protester, Nikki Stone, was arrested in connection with “damaging police cameras during five separate criminal incidents in and around City Hall Park.” She was charged with criminal mischief and vandalism.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday suggested that the arrest was justified, but he called the execution “troubling.” “It was the wrong time and the wrong place to effectuate that arrest,” he said at a news briefing.

Here’s what you need to know.

Ms. Stone, 18, was arrested at about 6 p.m. Tuesday at Second Avenue and East 25th Street in the Kips Bay section of Manhattan as she participated in a demonstration.

People at the scene and those who viewed video of the arrest seemed shocked, and also confused about exactly what had occurred. Most videos showed a silver van driving alongside the protesters when officers, some wearing bulletproof vests and others in plain clothes, jumped out of the vehicle to detain Ms. Stone. Almost immediately, officers on bicycles blocked anyone from intervening.

Hours later, she was released from police custody with a desk appearance ticket, requiring her to return to court at a later date.

On Wednesday, Chief of Detectives Rodney K. Harrison posted a video montage on Twitter that appeared to show a woman vandalizing police cameras.

“The N.Y.P.D. welcomes peaceful protests,” Chief Harrison wrote. “However, damage to N.Y.P.D. technology that helps keep this city safe will never be tolerated.”

Ms. Stone was protesting the July 22 clearing of the Occupy City Hall encampment at City Hall Park. Her sudden arrest drew parallels to tactics used in Portland.

There, federal agents have been clashing with protesters on the streets, with personnel without obvious markings pulling demonstrators into unmarked vans.

[Read more about how the video of the protester’s arrest drew criticism.]

The New York police said that warrant squads typically use unmarked vehicles to look for people wanted in connection with crimes, and that officers were following standard procedure.

Several city and state officials joined Mr. Lander in criticizing the incident.

Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who represents the district where the arrest took place, called the strategy “a massive overstep.” Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said he was “deeply concerned,” and Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the arrest “totally unacceptable.”

At a news briefing on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo described the video as “disturbing.”

“I’m surprised that, especially at this time, the N.Y.P.D. would take such an obnoxious action,” Mr. Cuomo said. “It was wholly insensitive to everything that has gone on.”

In a statement, Paul DiGiacomo, the president of the N.Y.P.D. Detectives’ Endowment Association, responded to the governor: “Detectives did what the government asked of them. What’s ‘obnoxious’ is your unjustified criticism of those men and women who are holding this city together, and the only ones preventing its descent into lawlessness.”


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Want more news? Check out our full coverage.

The Mini Crossword: Here is today’s puzzle.


A nonbinary law student has sued to get an “X” gender option on New York driver’s licenses. [Gothamist]

The city’s Department of Education handed out over 320,000 iPads to students. Now it needs them back. [Chalkbeat]

People are injecting drugs in broad daylight in Midtown Manhattan. [New York Post]


For decades, The Times has been chronicling broiling days like the ones we’re experiencing now, but 168 years ago this week it published one of the paper’s earliest and most extraordinary weather stories.

Ben Weiser, who covers the Manhattan federal courts for The Times, was browsing through the paper’s voluminous electronic database in 2013 when he stumbled upon that article, titled “The Streets in Midsummer,” which reported on New York City’s stifling-hot summer of 1852.

“It dawned on me that this might be The Times’s first weather story,” he told me.

Mr. Weiser set out to learn more about the 1,500-word piece, published in the first year of the newspaper’s existence, and he discovered that it was about much more than the weather.

It was “full of meticulous detail, social commentary, references to art and literature, and overwrought prose,” Mr. Weiser wrote in an article in 2013 about the original piece and the window it offered into how the paper covered the city nearly a decade before the Civil War.

Dust, for example, was everywhere. As the 1852 article noted, the city, with 515,000 people, was coated with a mix of “decomposed vegetable matters; the filth left there by thousands of passing animals; all conceivable sources of dirt, and all degrees of rottenness.”

In addition, the carcasses of dead horses and other animals often lay unattended, as did discarded food waste. Piles of manure stood outside stables and in the street. The city had no organized sanitation service.

“We have no idea how terrible the city smelled,” Jon A. Peterson, a professor emeritus of history at Queens College, said in Mr. Weiser’s article.

It’s Thursday — stay cool.


Dear Diary:

It was March 2013, and I was having a big birthday. Because the date fell on a weekday, my wife and I had delayed going out for a celebratory dinner until Saturday. I was looking forward to that, but my actual birthday just didn’t feel memorable.

Normally, I walked the mile from my home to the office and back, but that night, I decided to take the M102 bus instead. I boarded the bus at 42nd Street and Third Avenue.

“Whose birthday is it today?” the driver said. “It must be somebody’s.”

After thinking it over for a moment, I spoke up somewhat sheepishly to say that it was my birthday. Another passenger did too.

After asking our names, the driver encouraged the bus full of strangers to sing “Happy Birthday” to us.

Which they did, with gusto.

— Richard Rubenstein


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