Politicians Weigh in on New York City Subway Choking

May 4, 2023

The death of a man who’d been put in a chokehold by a fellow subway rider has elicited divided reactions from Democratic New York Politicians.

The death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely Monday night has been ruled a homicide by the New York City medical examiner.

The 24-year-old man who put Neely in the chokehold was questioned by police but he has so far not been charged. 

According to witnesses, Neely, who was Black and believed to be homeless, was acting erratically on a subway train car on the F line when the 24-year-old, who is white, put him in the chokehold that ultimately ended his life. 

New York politicians have since been weighing in on the incident. 

“NYC is not Gotham. We must not become a city where a mentally ill human being can be choked to death by a vigilante without consequences. Or where the killer is justified & cheered,” City Comptroller Brad Lander tweeted Tuesday.

On Thursday, Lander followed up, tweeting, “Our system failed to provide the support that Jordan Neely needed. We cannot become a city where someone experiencing a mental health crisis is choked to death on the subway. I hope that this can be a wake up call for more compassion and common sense.”

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also weighed in, tweeting several times, including on Wednesday, “This honestly feels like a new low: not being able to clearly condemn a public murder because the victim was of a social status some would deem ‘too low’ to care about.”

She tweeted on Thursday, “II have yet to hear a real explanation from any official hesitating to condemn the killing of Jordan Neely about what makes condemning this violence so ‘complicated.’ Killing is wrong. Killing the poor is wrong. Killing the mentally ill is wrong. Why is that so hard to say?”

Her remarks came after New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) has scolded politicians whom he sees as getting out ahead of District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation.

“Any loss of life is tragic,” Adams said in a statement Wednesday. “There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here, so I’m going to refrain from commenting further.”

On CNN, he added, “Let’s let the D.A. conduct his investigation with law enforcement officials. To interfere with that is not the right thing to do.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) also found herself in the middle of the debate. She initially drew criticism for not taking a strong position on the case after suggesting on Wednesday that there were “consequences for behavior.” On Thursday, she sought to clarify her remarks, calling the video of the incident “horrific.”

“I’m really pleased that the district attorney is looking into this matter,” Hochul told reporters Thursday. “As I said, there have to be consequences and so we’ll see how this unfolds. But his family deserves justice.”

She has also noted that her latest state budget proposal included more than $1 billion for tackling mental illness in New York.

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