Class forces behind Jordan Neely’s murder

Due to the mass struggle, white ex-Marine Daniel Penny, whose 15-minutes-long chokehold led to the death of Jordan Neely — a 30-year-old African American houseless and mentally ill man — was charged with second-degree manslaughter. If convicted — and that is a very big IF — he could face anywhere between 5-to-15 years in prison. Penny had at least two accomplices who held Neely’s arms and legs as he was being slowly asphyxiated; the two have not been charged. 


When Penny was brought in for questioning by the New York Police Department May 1 — the day that the murder took place on a F subway train, he was released without being charged with anything. 

Starting on May 2, spontaneous and planned demonstrations took place for days, including one that blocked a subway track, demanding that Penny be charged. That demand wasn’t realized until May 12, when Penny turned himself in after the District Attorney announced the manslaughter charges. Jordan Neely’s family and their attorneys, while saying they were “pleased” with the charges, had asked that Penny be charged with second-degree murder, which would have amounted to a harsher sentence if convicted. 

Penny was immediately released on $100,000 bail. How did such a large sum get raised so fast? A white supremacist-based crowd fundraising site, under the guise of being “Christian,” GiveSendGo, has raised over $1 million to date to support Penny’s legal expenses. The fundraising was organized by his lawyers; within just 24 hours of Penny being charged, $600,000 was raised for his defense. 

This same site raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for white-supremacist Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two anti-racist Black Lives Matter protesters in Wisconsin in 2020; the January 6, 2021, pro-Trump U.S. Capitol riot defendants; and the so-called “Freedom Convoy” — a group of truckers in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, who in 2022 protested a rule requiring cross-border drivers to be vaccinated. 

Extreme right-wing Republicans like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Twitter owner and billionaire Elon Musk and Fox News pundits all praised Penny for the killing. Their comments condoning Neely’s death are too disgusting to mention here.

May 8 protest demanding justice for Jordan Neely in NYC. (Credit: Getty Images -Spencer Platt)

Once again, the character of the victim — in this case Jordan Neely — a houseless, hungry, mentally ill and desperate man, who happened to be Black, is being put on trial in public. Penny’s lawyers will use character assassination as a major defense to justify this killing by a white vigilante. 

And this kind of heinous reaction is not isolated to just one individual. It is part of a racist war to justify such murders by the police and racist vigilantes like Penny by demonizing the victims, especially young Black men like Neely, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Trayvon Martin in Florida and even 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio, who were all falsely and cruelly labeled a danger and a menace to society. 

And the fact that a sector of the ruling class supports the actions of Penny illustrates that he has a lot of big-business support to attempt to exonerate him of this terrible crime. 

This is another reason why a united political classwide struggle should abolish this horrendous capitalist system — to guarantee all the human needs that the Jordan Neelys of the world cry out for and deserve.

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