June 4, 2023

By Deepti Hajela 

NEW YORK — Associates, relations and civil rights leaders gathered at a Harlem church on Friday to mourn Jordan Neely, whose chokehold demise on the New York Metropolis subway set off a debate about vigilantism, homelessness and public security.

A former Michael Jackson impersonator who had been battling psychological sickness and homelessness in recent times, Neely died Might 1 when a fellow subway rider pinned him to the ground of a subway automobile in a chokehold that lasted a number of minutes.

The deadly wrestle was recorded on video by an onlooker who stated Neely had been yelling at different passengers as he begged for cash, however hadn’t attacked anybody.

Final week the person who pinned and choked Neely, Daniel Penny, was charged with manslaughter by the Manhattan district lawyer. Penny’s attorneys say he was performing to guard himself and different passengers after Neely made threatening statements.

The Rev. Al Sharpton informed worshippers that Neely’s life needs to be celebrated, “however we must always not ignore how he died.”

Sharpton, who delivered the eulogy at Harlem’s Mount Neboh Baptist Church, stated Neely died “not due to pure causes however due to unnatural insurance policies.”

Neely’s demise and Penny’s subsequent arrest polarized New Yorkers and folks past, with some saying Penny, who’s white, was too fast to make use of lethal power on a Black man who posed no actual risk, and others saying the 24-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran was attempting to guard folks on the prepare and shouldn’t be punished.

Sharpton famous that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, known as Penny a “good Samaritan” final week and shared a fund-raising hyperlink for Penny’s authorized protection.

Sharpton stated the Biblical parable of the nice Samaritan is about coming to the help of somebody in want.

“A very good Samaritan helps these in bother,” Sharpton stated. “They don’t choke him out.”

Sharpton added, “What occurred to Jordan was against the law and this household shouldn’t have to face by themselves.”

Whereas Neely had a historical past of disruptive conduct — he had been arrested many occasions and pleaded responsible this 12 months to assaulting a stranger — pals and relations have stated they don’t imagine he would have harmed anybody if Penny had simply left him alone.

Sharpton stated Neely was screaming for assist.

“Individuals preserve criminalizing those that need assistance,” he stated. “They don’t want abuse, they need assistance.”

Elected officers together with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and New York Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado had been among the many tons of attending the funeral, which was on the identical church the place the funeral for Neely’s mom, Christie Neely, was held after she was murdered when Neely was 14.