The New York City Police Department worked with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to detain a protestor on Wednesday.
A video surfaced by the Immigrant Defense Project shows one agent who appears to be from Homeland Security Investigations, a department within ICE, working with other plain clothed officers to arrest a man whose face is blurred out. A protestor carrying a sign watches over the arrest.
According to IDP, the arrest took place at 7 PM in the Upper West Side area of Manhattan, after five, mostly plain-clothed, officers jumped out of an unmarked SUV and threw the man, a US citizen of Puerto Rican descent, to the ground. The man was not formally taken into custody but was held in handcuffs for some time before being let go.
An ICE official confirmed that HSI Special Agents did assist the NYPD in detaining a protestor on Wednesday. They stated that this was not immigration-related but they believed the person was armed with a weapon. However, the individual was released without charges.
“Homeland Security Investigations continue to work alongside all of our state, local and federal partners in keeping our communities safe and peaceful during these protests,” an ICE spokesperson said. “HSI Special Agents identified a person considered to be in possession of a weapon and a threat to public safety. No arrests were made. This was not immigration-related.”
Unlike their sister agency, Enforcement and Removal Operation, HSI does participate in criminal investigations and has the authority to make criminal arrests. In response to the nationwide protests following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, ICE has deployed agents to protect its facilities and assets.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD have stated that there is no need for assistance from federal agencies, such as the National Guard, in policing the protests.
The NYPD and the mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment on why HSI’s assistance was sought in carrying out this arrest by the time of publication.
Many New Yorkers are reeling after a week of videos of NYPD officers violently confronting peaceful protestors have been circulating online, with the mayor repeatedly denying any wrongdoing by the NYPD.