Last week, criminal justice advocates took a moment to celebrate the arrest and arraignment of 24-year-old white Marine Daniel Penny, who was seen in a video strangling 30-year-old Jordan Neely, a homeless Black man, to death on an F train in Manhattan on May 1.
Neely’s death has prompted numerous protests, while others have painted Penny as a vigilante hero, reported the Associated Press (AP). Penny’s lawyers are claiming self-defense against second-degree manslaughter charges. A GofundMe was created for Penny’s legal defense that netted more than $2 million in donations.
Only Penny has been identified from the video as an assailant so far.
Many indicated that the journey to #JusticeforJordan was far from over, and that they wouldn’t stop until the other two subway passengers seen restraining Neely while he was choked were charged as well.
“The system is doing exactly what it is designed to do and that is to demonize Black men, and until we acknowledge that, nothing will change,” said Councilmember Althea Stevens at a New York City Council Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus (BLAC) press conference at City Hall.
“They stood there for 15 minutes while someone choked [Neely] out and then we had bystanders come and hold his hands down. This was a public lynching,” said Stevens.
Stevens said that it is “unacceptable” that other commuters were either complicit or actively helping Penny. She feels that people have been programmed and “numb” to accept the death of Black men in public via social media and videos.
RELATED: JusticeForJordan: White subway rider Daniel Penny arraigned after choking death of Black New Yorker Jordan Neely
BLAC Co-Chair and Councilmember Kevin Riley added that he saw three people committing a crime against Neely in the video, so he believes they all should answer. “When we’re in a state of humanity, you realize someone’s going through a mental health crisis [and you’re] witnessing a murder,” said Riley. “If we’re going to build a community in New York City and have safe spaces, we have to provide safe spaces for people.”
Chivona Newsome, who runs the Black Lives Matter Greater New York and Black Opportunities organizations, held a “celebratory” gathering near Foley Square on Thursday evening after hearing that the Manhattan district attorney had decided to file charges against Penny. Newsome called it a small victory, and said the fact remains that the other two men in the video haven’t been identified or charged yet.
The funeral for Neely will be held this Friday, May 19, at 9:00 AM at 1883 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. It will be conducted by Neely’s family pastor, Rev. Dr. Johnnie Melvin Green Jr., and Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.
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