‘The community is not behind this’: Arrest of East Village homeless woman enrages residents

East Village residents are in an uproar after a local homeless woman was violently taken away in cuffs on Monday — and her belongings were left unattended at the bus stop she occupied for nearly two years.

Since the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unhoused woman known as Marie has taken up shelter in an East Village bus stop. Through all the seasons, from the scorching heat to mounds of snow surrounding her ankles, locals have come to know her and call her a friend. She could often be found cleaning the M14D/M14A bus stop on Avenue B and 14 Street.

However, on Aug. 1, she was taken away from her camp, though the reasons were not very clear. According to eyewitnesses, NYPD officers approached Marie; they were seen arguing with the woman.

“They were harassing her for over an hour. If they were going to take her they should have just taken her. They should have had a social worker, that is who they should have had,” one Stuyvesant Town resident told amNewYork Metro.

In a video obtained by amNewYork Metro, police are shown removing the homeless individual and strapping her to a gurney while also arresting a second woman who had become incensed by the removal and attempted to intervene by kicking a first responder.

Video by Lola Daeher

“They were surrounding her and holding her really aggressively so that everyone surrounding on the street was really freaked out,” Lola Daeher said, who filmed the incident. “They whipped this woman around in a way that could have broken her arms.”

Police, however, are offering a different account.

According to sources familiar with the case, officers were in the area monitoring the avenue due to ongoing community complaints of daytime drug use when the homeless woman began banging on a police vehicle, which led them to deem her emotionally disturbed and cuff her.

Police sources confirmed the third-party involvement, the woman observed kicking the first responder. 

The belongings are left by the bus shelter. Photo by Dean Moses

Spectators are fuming over the women’s belongings being left unattended, with several eyewitnesses stating she pleaded with officers not to trash them. 

April Saccoccio knows experiences like this all too well. During the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, she lived under the FDR with her partner Alex Lively and has experienced losing their belongings when they were moved by the NYPD and DHS-DSS due to construction work in 2021.

She often returns to Stuyvesant Town to visit friends and said she was shocked to see the incident.

“I couldn’t believe that they took away a homeless girl for just being there. And they left all her stuff, that’s all I would think about. That’s all she has in the world,” Saccoccio said, looking over a mound of bags as it began to rain. 

Video by Lola Daeher

A throng of residents argued with a commanding officer following the scuffle, demanding answers. The locals not only asked why the woman was arrested but also why so much force was used.

“The community was not behind this,” one man could be heard saying. 

Although the reason for the arrest remains contentious, one thing has become clear: culture surrounding the way the city treats its homeless population is rapidly becoming a combative issue.

April and Lola worry about the women’s personal items. Photo by Dean Moses