On May 1, on the NYC subway, Daniel Penny, a former U.S. Marine, came up behind Jordan Neely, a Black man suffering from mental and emotional anguish. Penny put Neely in a chokehold. While a passenger told Penny, “If you suffocate him, that’s it. You don’t want to catch a murder charge,” Penny choked the life out of Jordan Neely. He did it on video, in full view of passengers in the subway car.
Police briefly questioned Penny and released him. At this posting, no charges have been filed against Penny. Daniel Penny is on video killing an unarmed man who was not harming anyone. Refusing to charge him would send a brutal, racist message that cannot be allowed to go down!
“I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up …”
Jordan Neely was a widely known and appreciated street performer who did an impersonation of Michael Jackson, recreating the dance moves from the video of “Thriller.” And Jordan Neely was a Black man in America. He came up hard, battled mental health issues, and at the time of his death was reportedly homeless. He had people who cared for him, but they were no match for a heartless system.
In the subway car, before his death, according to all reports, Neely was extremely upset, shouting, “I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up… I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison… I’m ready to die.”
No evidence has been presented (or as yet, concocted) that Neely was a physical threat to anyone. One witness said Neely had been panhandling and shouting on the train, but, "It did not appear that this man, who seemed to be suffering from some kind of mental disturbance, was seeking to assault anyone."
Blood on the Hands of Eric Adams
New York City mayor Eric Adams has repeatedly refused to condemn the killing of Jordan Neely. His statement in response to the killing declared, “We cannot have people with severe emotional illnesses on our subway system.”
Think that through: A Black man, not physically threatening anyone, suffering from severe emotional illness, is killed, and this is Adams’ response! How is that not an endorsement of and further inciting even more violence directed at anyone who is perceived to be suffering from emotional distress? Especially if they are Black, Latino, homeless, or anyone dehumanized by this system?
The “Black Giuliani” Adams did not create the epidemic of homelessness and mental illness in New York City. In late 2022, the New York Times reported there were over 100,000 homeless children in the city’s schools. And studies show that a large majority of unsheltered homeless New Yorkers are people suffering from mental illness or other severe health problems. These are crimes, and products of, the capitalist-imperialist system which “values” people only so much as they can be exploited or facilitate exploitation. To be mentally ill, to be in anguish, to be hungry with no place to live are NOT crimes; but to run a system in which such abject suffering is totally unnecessary but allowed to continue most definitely IS criminal.
But the Black Giuliani DID make it a point to come in as a law-and-order enforcer, becoming the darling of Joe “Fund the Police” Biden, as the leading—but not only—“tough-on-crime” Democratic mayor. As Carl Dix said in a statement issued after the murder, “Eric Adams … relishes in presiding over how those at the bottom of this system get even further brutalized and discarded.” The fact that he combines this with “I’m anointed by god” bullshit makes him an even more popular go-to for the main Democratic tack of conciliation with religious lunacy.
From day one of his administration, Adams has been on a mission to incite fear and hatred of homeless and mentally ill people in the subways with rhetoric like “If you got a ninja outfit on and you are running around with a sword, then something is wrong.” Adams falsely claimed subway crime is “driven by people with mental health issues.” In fact, homeless people are more likely to be the victims of crimes than perpetrators.
In early 2022, Adams, himself a former subway pig, directed an assault on homeless and mentally ill people in the subway. A thousand people were arrested for “crimes” like taking up more than one seat on a train. In November 2022, Adams instituted policies that allowed authorities to seize people in the subway and hospitalize them against their will based on vague criteria like declaring that a person was “unable to meet their basic needs.” On release, people detained under these orders are sent to shelters where barbaric conditions and utter lack of mental healthcare resources intensify their mental health crises and drive them back into the streets or subways.
In this environment, is it any wonder that people are leaping to vigilante mentality—especially when the Black Giuliani refuses to condemn them??!?
New York City’s fascist daily tabloid, the Post, has magnified all of Adams' lies and rhetoric. And cheered on all his assaults on homeless and mentally ill people in the subway.
It was in this climate that Daniel Penny felt enabled and entitled to kill Jordan Neely. And Adams’ statements since the murder have amplified the message that mentally ill people on New York City subways are fair game. Asked when it is “appropriate” for subway passengers to “take matters into [their] own hands,” Adams declared: “Each situation is different…. [we] cannot just blanketly say what a passenger should or should not do in a situation like that.”
With statements like this, Adams is channeling the Southern sheriffs who justified lynching without explicitly approving it back in the day. Coming out with statements like this, after a man has been killed for the “crime” of making people uncomfortable, are outrageous green lights for anyone else to do the same thing Penny did.
As Carl Dix put it in his statement, ON THE SUBWAY LYNCHING OF JORDAN NEELY... ANOTHER BLACK LIFE SNUFFED OUT BY THIS SYSTEM…. ENOUGH! TIME TO GET ORGANIZED FOR A REAL REVOLUTION:
This system and those who lose their humanity to its values and morals have no use for beautiful people like Jordan. No use for the Black and Brown young men and women who roam the streets and subways of one of the richest cities in the world, homeless, dealing with the mental anguish and pain of growing up in this hell hole.
The cold and bitter truth is that this system has no future for millions of Black and Brown people like Jordan: those suffering from mental illness, those relegated to live on the streets and in the shadows, those millions they can't profitably exploit... who are completely dispensable under this capitalist-imperialist system—whose only measure is profit, profit, profit....
Our choices don’t lie with siding with that vicious oinker, Eric Adams, who relishes in presiding over how those at the bottom of this system get even further brutalized and discarded. And our interests don’t lie in being played by this system, falling behind this Black face or this female face that put out calls for justice and equality that they know this system is incapable of meeting.
It’s time to get serious about a whole better way to live, without exploitation and oppression.
It’s time to get with the leadership, the method, and the strategy to make this revolution real. A revolution requires extraordinary, scientific leadership. We have that in Bob Avakian (BA), who has charted the road map, the mission, and the blueprint for the future society worthy of our humanity. This is a leader to get to know and to follow.