Imagine, for a moment, a different scenario in the Jordan Neely case.
Let’s say that Neely, a homeless individual and part-time Michael Jackson impersonator with a record of 40-plus arrests, had not been apprehended and put into a choke-hold by 24-year-old Marine vet Daniel Penny on the Manhattan-bound F-train on May 1, 2023.
Let’s also imagine that Neely’s mental breakdown rant on that same subway train went from threatening violence – “I’ll hurt anyone on this train” – to actual violence in which he attacked several passengers.
Imagine Neely turning on passengers by pushing, shoving, punching and kicking – as Daniel Penny observed the mayhem from the sidelines.
Imagine the press coverage after this fact.
“Passengers watch as homeless man terrorizes train and injures many. Who was there to defend the 80-year-old woman who died of a heart attack as Neely threw kicks and punches?”
The article would give an overview of the able-bodied passengers on the train who could have done something but didn’t.
“On board was a 24-year-old Marine vet who sat and observed as 80-year-old Mrs. O’Rielly fell to the floor and died” – one can envision news stations proclaiming.
The Jordan Neely incident could have easily gone this way.
Any city resident will tell you that riding the subway on a regular basis is a good education when it comes to gauging the danger level of crazy people acting out in public.
Most of the crazies I’ve encountered on Philadelphia’s Market Street El have been of the ‘theatrical’ variety (all bark and no bite) who, though seriously mentally ill, are rarely harmful to other people and not dangerous with a capital ‘D’ at all. To the occasional suburbanite who rarely visits the city, however, these same people might appear to be extremely dangerous.
In other words, when one is thoroughly urbanized, these things are put into perspective.
At the same time it is very nearly impossible to know when a severely mentally ill individual like Neely will snap and go from ‘all bark and no bite’ to actual violence.
When one enters a train as Neely did and screams that he is ready to die, and that he doesn’t care if he gets the death penalty, this is tantamount to an Islamist terrorist screaming from his airplane seat that he is ready to die for Allah.
Behavior like this puts everyone on notice that they should also be ready to die. After all, if the deranged person doesn’t care about his life, he’s not going to care about yours.
And yet – would you believe – an army of woke leftist race card baiters would have you believe otherwise.
Vox, the lefist online publication, ran the following headline after Neely’s death: ‘How Black Americans are treated as threats.”
What does a headline like this mean? Neely was a threat because of his actions, not because of his race. Had a deranged white man shouted similar things Penny would almost certainly have reacted in a similar way.
It’s also possible that Penny hesitated before subduing Neely because he was black and the ‘race card’ threatened to discolor anything he might do.
CNN’s headline took the sympathetic/Hallmark card approach: ‘Jordan Neely, the man killed in chokehold on NYC Subway, is remembered as an entertainer shattered by his mother’s death.’
Embedded in the headline one can hear a chorus of violins that seems to raise questions about Penny’s motivations when he unintentionally ended the life of a homeless man whose life had already been shattered.
Mayor Eric Adams, wisely circumspect, did not jump to Al Sharpton conclusions when he cautioned New Yorkers to withhold judgment about the case until all the facts are in.
As for Sharpton, Newsweek quoted him as saying that he wants Neely’s death investigated “as a potential case of manslaughter if not murder.” What else would you expect Al Sharpton to say? Sharpton compared the case to the Bernhard Goetz case in 1984, when Goetz, a white man, was convicted of a weapons offense after shooting four black men on a NYC subway train.
“We cannot end up back to a place where vigilantism is tolerable,” Sharpton said. “It wasn’t acceptable then and it cannot be acceptable now.”
Sharpton and his cohorts have now branded Penny a vigilante.
This convenient stick-on label got New York’s governor to say that “Neely’s family deserves justice,” an ambiguous phrase loaded with BLM imagery – “No Justice, No Peace” – with the additional overlay of American cities burning in 2020.
That call has been taken up by veteran 2020 rioters, who have been in a dormant state since George Floyd was a household name. Now that the race card buzzer has gone off, one can see them springing into action: See them jump onto the tracks and blocking subway trains at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
See them with megaphones and protest signs:
“Jordan Neely’s death was a lynching!”
“Justice 4 Jordan Neely—Murdered!”
The Left desperately wants a new George Floyd, a new race divider martyr/hero to keep the race war going.
The Neely incident caused Candace Owens to remark that the nation needs to bring back insane asylums. “Mentally well people are now being told to yield to mentally ill people,” she said in a YouTube podcast that was packed with triple viewing warnings from leftist YouTube brass.
Owens stated that the Left wants us to believe that “Homeless people are all suffering and all they want is food,” when the reality is quite the opposite. Nearly 100% of the homeless in big cities, especially New York, are drug-addled individuals who were not made homeless because they couldn’t pay their mortgage or rent.
While drug addiction is no excuse to mistreat the homeless, they should not be “romanticized” either.
But this is what Sara Newman, director of organizing at the New York’s Open Hearts Initiative, an advocacy group for homeless shelter residents, seems to be suggesting when she said, “Jordan Neely’s murder is the direct result of efforts to dehumanize and demonize New Yorkers who are experiencing homelessness, living with mental illness or just existing in the world as Black and poor.”
In my Philadelphia neighborhood, the vast majority of the drug-addicted homeless are poor and white.
In the coming weeks, we are likely to see Daniel Penny turned into a villain by mainstream media outlets, especially as leftists pump fuel into their demands that he be punished as a lesson and warning to other wannabe “vigilantes” who might jump into action the way Penny did on May 1.
That message will be simple: If the perceived trouble-maker is black and you are white, the best option is to stay seated and do nothing.