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Thursday’s Headlines: The NYPD’s Trumpist Tactics Edition

12:04 AM EDT on July 30, 2020

Cops on bikes plow over protesters to form a security ring around other officers throwing a protester into an unmarked van during a July protest.

Imagine what NYPD arrests look like when there aren't a dozen cameras around.

Lots of media outlets covered the outrageous arrest by the NYPD of an allegedly wanted protester during a peaceful march on Tuesday, but Gothamist's Jake Offenhartz won the day with both savage questioning of Mayor de Blasio at his morning presser, and continued solid coverage for his outlet.

Let's go to the videotape, as Warner Wolf used to say:

First, the close-up view, which starts just as NYPD officers wrestle 18-year-old Nicki Stone into an unmarked van:

A wider view (below) shows just how large an operation this was, involving not only the plainclothes officers, but also bike cops who arrive on the scene and use their bikes as weapons (to plow over at least two people just standing around) and shields to ward off anyone who might object to a teenager being scooped up and tossed into the aforementioned unmarked van in a violent manner (despite being wanted for the non-violent crime of criminal mischief):

The video dominated the mayor's press conference on Wednesday, with the mayor saying that the warrant squad should not be making arrests in the middle of a peaceful protest against the very kinds of tactics that President Trump is using in Portland to chill the First Amendment rights of people ... protesting brutal police tactics.

So Offenhartz ramped it up and reminded the mayor that, at least on paper, he runs the police department: "What do you think it says about the NYPD’s judgment that they saw differently — and as a leader of the city, do you have any plans to discipline officers involved to ensure this doesn't happen again?"

No, the mayor said he has no plans to discipline the commanders who signed off on the arrest.

"I don't think it's a matter of discipline," he said. "I think it's a matter of people understanding what's happening in this moment and making better choices about how to deal with things in this moment of history."

Later, Offenhartz stayed on the "moment of history" angle: It's one thing to arrest people suspected of a crime, but it's entirely another thing to do it at a peaceful protest. In the afternoon, he tweeted part of an interview he had with lawyer Gideon Oliver, who pointed out that "the only reasonable conclusion you can draw is that the police decided to do this to send a message to scare and chill protesters."

It's not even controversial; the mayor said as much in his comments (the Times and WSJ also covered). But what will happen next? And what happens when there aren't cameras around? State Sen. Zellnor Myrie certainly knows:

Finally, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams wants answers from Police Commissioner Dermot Shea, including whether "alleged damage of property" has ever "led to similar tactics." (We're asking, too.)

In other news:

    • Our top story: Reporter Dave Colon will be on Brian Lehrer's WNYC show this morning at around 10:30 a.m. talking about ... our other top story ...
    • ...Everyone got some second-day coverage out of the Revel scooter story, with the Post leading the way by interviewing an anonymous former employee who trashed the company's electric machines as built to fail. The Times made Revel's struggles the lead explainer in NY Today. Streetsblog did a post-mortem. And Market Urbanism had a great tweet about it, to which we replied.
    • Funny how conservatives think any defacement of public property is vandalism ... until they do it. Yes, Scott LoBaido is at it again. (NY Post)
    • The MTA is testing new maps, the Post reports. (Keen-eyed Streetsblog readers will notice former intern Steven Vago sharing the byline with former Streetsblogger David Meyer on the story.)
    • The Taxi and Limousine Commission put out a report about the cab industry during coronavirus. You sort of know exactly what's in the report before you even read it. (NYDN, NY Post)
    • Vitally important in-person driver training courses can now be done online, Gov. Cuomo decided yesterday (NY Post) — a huge mistake that Streetsblog covered last year.
    • A federal judge ordered New York State to start paying unemployment benefits to Uber and Lyft drivers — a major victory in their fight for labor rights. (NY Times)
    • Mark Hallum of amNY checked out the car-free Mott Street that we reported on the other day.
    • Oh and some crazy white supremacist was ranting about the suburbs again yesterday.

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