The vigilante chokehold death of an unarmed and nonviolent Black man on a New York City subway this week is drawing comparisons to the murder of his own mother years earlier and the subsequent legal case in which he played a significant role.
According to reports, Jordan Neely, 30, was yelling and screaming about being hungry during a subway ride in Manhattan on Monday before throwing his jacket to the ground. That apparently prompted an unidentified white man to assault Neely and place him in a chokehold on the subway car’s floor while at least one other man helped with the restraining. After the vigilante determined Neely was no longer moving, he was let go. But first responders couldn’t revive Neely and he was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.
To add insult to literal injury, the white man was arrested by NYPD before he was allowed to be released without any criminal charges for what appeared to be a vigilante killing.
Slightly more than 16 years earlier, 14-year-old Neely was an eyewitness to the domestic violence that ultimately contributed to the murder of his own mother.
Christine Neely was 36 years old when her boyfriend choked her to death, stuffed her body in a suitcase and dumped it on the side of a highway in the Bronx in 2007.
More than four years later, an 18-year-old Jordan Neely testified during Shawn Southerland’s murder trial how he saw the couple “fight every day,” NJ.com reported at the time.
Southerland was ultimately sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Jordan Neely’s father recalled that death on Monday during an interview with the New York Daily News about the chokehold death of his own son.
“His moms died — she got killed too. And now him?! She got killed [by] her boyfriend. And now him? By somebody else?” Andre Zachery said. “I don’t know what to say.”
One of the key differences between the two cases is, of course, the fact that Christine Neely’s killer was held accountable. Meanwhile, the person who placed Jordan Neely in what turned out to be a deadly chokehold had the privilege of escaping any semblance of accountability for death to which he undoubtedly contributed.
In an example of how the story of Jordan Neely’s death has resonated with people, a college student started a GoFundMe account on Wednesday to raise funds that will be steered “directly to the family to help cover the cost of funeral and burial expenses.”
“Mr. Neely’s death was an act of injustice and blatant nonchalant remedying the rampant mental health problem that exists in America today,” Mike Cole wrote on the GoFundMe page. “I started this GoFundMe because I would like to ensure that this family doesn’t have to feel the financial burden of burial.”
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