On May 1, a homeless man named Jordan Neely went on a verbal tirade while riding the New York City subway. Neely’s remarks consisted of him saying that he was hungry and thirsty, that he would hurt anyone on the train, that he didn’t mind going to jail or prison, and that he was ready to die. He also threw trash at passengers, and by some accounts even physically threatened them. As a result, several other passengers pinned Neely to the ground. One of them was a former Marine named Daniel Penny, who put a chokehold on Neely. Another passenger named Juan Alberto Vasquez filmed the incident and stated that Penny had Neely in the chokehold position for fifteen minutes. As a result, Neely died, and Penny has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Since Neely was black, and Penny was white, there are those who have applied the race card to this tragic incident. Some people have also denounced Penny’s actions as the murder of a homeless man, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. There have also been protests over Neely’s death.
It should be noted that Neely has been arrested at least forty times. His crimes include an attempted kidnapping of a seven-year-old girl and the assault of a 67-year-old woman. Neely was also known to be mentally ill.
But in the midst of this tragedy, there are questions to be asked, which are as follows:
- Were Penny’s actions (and those who helped him restrain Neely) racially motivated, or were they the actions of individuals fed up with the rising crime in New York City due to the NYPD being defunded?
- Why was Neely allowed to roam the streets of New York City considering his mental state and posing a danger to himself and others?
- Did Vasquez record the entire incident on the subway or just the final minutes of Neely being restrained?
- Why didn’t Penny use another method (e.g. the full nelson) to restrain Neely?
- Why did Penny have to apply the chokehold for fifteen minutes?
- Who were the other men who helped restrain Neely, and are they also going to face charges?
- Why didn’t Neely’s family try to get him some help, given his numerous arrests?
As was the case in the George Floyd incident, this matter is a double-edged scenario. In other words, George Floyd had a criminal record and died due to fentanyl ingestion, while Derek Chauvin should not have knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for over nine minutes. And while Neely had a criminal record and was acting aggressively toward the passengers, Penny should not have taken applied the chokehold for fifteen minutes.
Thus, all four individuals share the blame in both incidents.
Unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way.