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Jordan Neely Wasn't Murdered
The progressive-activist class is trying to make this into a morality play.
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By now you’ve doubtless heard about the recent incident that occurred on a northbound F train in New York City involving a white Marine and a black man named Jordan Neely. The latter was a 30-year-old homeless individual with reported drug and mental-health problems who, according to the New York Daily News, had been shouting, throwing garbage at, and otherwise harassing passengers. A witness described Neely’s behavior to the New York Post: “He started screaming in an aggressive manner” and “said he had no food, he had no drink, that he was tired and doesn’t care if he goes to jail. He started screaming all these things, took off his jacket, a black jacket that he had, and threw it on the ground.”
Eventually, the Marine intervened. The pair got into an argument, then a fight, and during the brawl the Marine “put the victim in a chokehold and tried to restrain him.” Video of the incident shows another man (who’s black) trying to grab Neely’s arms. A third man (Hispanic) hovers to the side, seemingly waiting to see if his help is needed.
Reportedly, the intent was to hold Neely down until the cops came. The emergency button had been pushed and the train was stopped. But tragically, the compression applied to Neely’s neck proved fatal.
On Wednesday, the city’s medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. A homicide. Not murder. The distinction is important. A homicide simply means that the death was caused by the actions of another person, and is not a statement of criminal guilt.
But Leftists want a revolution1 and another Summer of Love to rival that committed in the name of Saint George Floyd. They’ve decided this incident is excellent fuel for the fire, and morons like AOC are leading the charge.
“Jordan Neely was murdered,” she proclaimed in a tweet that scolded the New York Times for not adopting her preferred language. “But bc Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected w/ passive headlines + no charges. It’s disgusting.” She then went on to call this a “public execution.”
Let’s ignore AOC’s made up word of “houseless.”2 There’s no evidence Neely was killed because of his socioeconomic status. The fact that three men were trying to subdue him speaks to the threat that the people on the train believed they were dealing with. He was not some harmless Michael Jackson impersonator,3 a carefree street performer whose threats to other passengers were simply “aggressive speech,” as so many people have tried to claim. This was someone who had over 40 prior arrests on his record and was wanted for punching a 67-year-old woman in the face at the time of his death.
Furthermore, the “murderer” is not being “protected.” A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney said a “rigorous ongoing investigation” will include a review of the Medical Examiner’s report, an assessment of “all available video and photo footage, and interviews with “as many witnesses as possible.” There could be no charges, charges of a lesser crime than murder, or the murder charge that AOC and her ilk have their fingers crossed for. Even in the event that a murder charge is brought, it wouldn’t justify AOC’s statement because the DA’s office would still need to prove the man’s guilt before a jury of his peers.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a concerted effort by activists and the mainstream media to make this into a racial issue. One sign at a protest declared simply that Neely was “a black man killed by a white man.” Rev. Al Sharpton invoked the name of Bernie Goetz — who shot four black teens on a subway in 1984 — in a statement about the incident. Rep. Jamaal Bowman tweeted that “Black men seem to always be choked to death . . . Jordan Neely did not have to die. It’s as simple as that . . . Yet we have another Black man publicly executed.” And numerous politicians and public figures have called this a “lynching.”
There’s a narrative being established. We’ve been able to watch this happen in real-time as people like AOC and Ayanna Presley make misleading, incredibly irresponsible pronouncements that carry weight among the public, the media, and the DA’s office. Now, there’s little doubt that a significant portion of the country will remain oblivious to the circumstances and the fact that Neely was a hardcore, mentally ill recidivist who was threatening people on the subway. All they’ll take away is that a black man was strangled by a blonde white boy who the police declined to arrest. If it had been a black Marine who restrained and accidentally killed a white homeless man with 44 mostly violent arrests and who threatened multiple people, the Marine would be hailed as a hero and lauded on CNN, MSNBC, and The View.
Think about this. The only time you hear about black people being murdered/killed — the only time there’s national coverage — is when the killer is white. Today in the U.S. a young black man has fifteen times the chances of dying from violence as his white counterpart. Violence takes more years of life from black men than cancer, stroke, and diabetes combined. And it’s not because of white people. But we’re not allowed to talk about this.
Neely’s death comes down to New York politicians who support weak-on-crime policies like defunding and shrinking the police, eliminating jail time for various offenses, and bail reform. Even more so, it’s about the state abandoning the mentally ill and leaving them to fend for themselves in a society in which they cannot function. It’s about replacing the asylum with a jail cell.
By all accounts, Jordan Neely had a terrible life. When he was 14 years old, his mother was murdered, stuffed inside a suitcase and thrown onto the side of a highway. His aunt told the New York Post that the situation broke him, and that he suffered from schizophrenia and PTSD. She begged judges and doctors to get Neely the help he so desperately needed, but nothing was done. The truth is that New York City and its do-nothing Democratic politicians didn’t care about his life until he lost it. His death was a tragedy, a tale of systemic failure that’s been turned into a political spectacle that prejudices the legal case against a private citizen.
And the fact of the matter is, that private citizen was not in the wrong. NYC subway riders don’t exactly look for opportunities to engage with the homeless and mentally unwell. But Neely announced himself as a physical threat to those around him; they had every legal and moral right to take action to defend themselves in a city that has conveyed to them in no uncertain terms that they’re on their own. Particularly for someone with a military background who’s reasonably afraid he or someone else is about to be attacked, the reaction is instinctive. It seems highly unlikely that the Marine meant to kill Neely; the fact that he did will weigh on him for the rest of his life. And the progressive Left’s desire to turn him into a villain and exploit Neely’s death, spinning this incident for partisan game, is as gross as it is callous.