Al Sharpton’s National Action Network has joined a growing number of radical activists demanding that the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg file charges in connection with the chokehold death of Jordan Neely.
Demonstrators have been rallying across New York City to demand justice for Neely, with protesters taking to the streets from Union Square to the 63rd Street-Lexington Avenue subway station. At present, it remains unclear whether any arrests have been made. A grand jury is expected to convene next week to hear evidence in the case.
The protesters actually took to the subway tracks in an effort to disrupt the train schedule.
There were also protesters threatening to “tear the city down” unless the Marine who killed Neely is aggressively prosecuted.
New York City protesters angry over the death of Jordan Neely are threatening to "tear the city down" unless something is done about the marine who killed him. pic.twitter.com/n8h2I598C0
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) May 7, 2023
On Friday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Washington Square Park to protest against the lack of care for the city’s homeless and mentally ill, as well as the mayor’s inaction in response to the case.
"If we have to strap up & come out here start popping, it's gonna happen"
“You try to encroach on any of us, we lay you the f— down.”
Comrade Don Curtis, a convicted murderer & violent robber, leads a BLM-style protest for #JordanNeely in NYC.
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) May 5, 2023
Meanwhile, the NYPD has issued a call for help in their investigation and is asking for the public’s assistance in reviewing video footage and other material. In a statement, a spokesperson for the DA said that they would review the Medical Examiner’s report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records as part of their ongoing investigation.
The attorney for the Marine veteran who was involved in Neely’s death has issued a statement offering condolences over what he described as an “awful tragedy.” The 24-year-old former marine and college student has been identified by his attorney as Danny Penny.
In a statement, Penny’s law firm, Raiser and Kenniff, P.C., released a statement on Friday evening.
“When Mr. Neely began aggressively threatening Daniel Penny and the other passengers, Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived,” lawyers for Penny said. “Daniel never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.”
The statement also expressed the hope that the tragedy would prompt elected officials to take action to address the mental health crisis in the city’s streets and subways.
Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation have said that the probe into the subway chokehold death is ongoing. The case is likely to go to a grand jury next week, though a final decision has not yet been made. Detectives have already interviewed more than half a dozen witnesses and are looking to speak to “four or five more” who had close-in vantage points to what occurred.
Activists have been calling for charges to be filed against the Marine veteran at the center of the video showing Neely in a chokehold. Neely died from compression of the neck, according to the city’s medical examiner. Neely was a well-known Michael Jackson impersonator who regularly danced in the Times Square transit hub. He died after being restrained by at least three people, including the Marine veteran, who pulled one arm tightly around his neck.
According to sources, witnesses told police Neely was erratic and hostile in his final moments.
“He erupted in the train and then started to yelling violence language, ‘I don’t care if I die, I don’t care if I go to jail, I don’t have any food, I don’t have any beverage, I’m done,'” said Juan Alberto Vázquez who recorded video of the encounter.
Mayor Eric Adams spoke about the investigation and urged New Yorkers to withhold judgment.
“I’m going to let the process take its place and those who believe that I should do something differently, I respect that,” Adams said. “But I have to make the right decision for the City of New York.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke out about the case on Thursday and said Neely’s family deserves justice.
“Just looking at that video, you know it’s wrong, no one has the right to take the life of another person,” Hochul said. “Three individuals holding him down until the last breath was snuffed out him, I would say, was a very extreme response.”
On Wednesday night, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, “Jordan Neely was murdered.”
Neely had a record of 42 prior arrests for alleged violations of local law dating between 2013 and 2021, including four for alleged assault, transit fraud, and criminal trespass. Many of the offenses were lower-level offenses such as having an open container of alcohol in public. Some have defended the Marine veteran’s actions, while others have decried it as an overreaction to a person suffering from mental illness.
Protesters gathered at the station where the incident took place on Wednesday afternoon to call for an arrest. The Open Hearts Initiative’s Sara Newman said that Neely’s death “underscores a truth that folks who have lived on the streets know especially well: people experiencing homelessness or mental illness are at far higher risk of being harmed than of harming others.”
Al Sharpton has demanded that Neely’s death be investigated as a potential case of manslaughter if not murder, referencing the Bernhard Goetz case in 1984, in which a white gunman was convicted of a weapons offense after he shot four Black men on a New York City subway train. Juan Alberto Vazquez, the freelance journalist who recorded the incident, told the New York Post that Neely was screaming “in an aggressive manner” but did not attack anyone.
The city’s medical examiner said Neely died from compression of the neck and classified the death as a homicide. The Manhattan district attorney’s office said it is investigating, and any determination of criminal culpability would be up to the legal system.
Follow Kyle Becker on Twitter @kylenabecker.