Amid the fallout over the latest subway killing allegedly committed in the name of self-defense, will the same folks who supported Daniel Penny with millions of dollars in online donations step forward to empty their pockets now that a suspect of the same alleged crime is a Black man?
Jordan Williams was arrested and charged with manslaughter Tuesday night following the stabbing death of Devictor Ouedraogo, who was reportedly “acting belligerent and violent” before punching Williams’ girlfriend in her face on the J train after the two men encountered each other. Reports identified Ouedraogo as a homeless person with a criminal record. Williams’ lawyer said his client was defending himself and others on the train.
Sound familiar? It should, since that scenario is a nearly identical match to the circumstances under which Penny, 24, attacked Jordan Neely by coming up behind him on an F-line train and placing the 30-year-old homeless man in the throes of a mental health crisis in what turned out to be a deadly chokehold over a perceived threat in which Neely never actually physically harmed anyone — unlike what Ouedraogo reportedly did to Williams’ girlfriend.
But in the aftermath of Penny choking Neely to death, not only did the NYPD not arrest him but the former Marine was labeled a hero and Good Samaritan for what his supporters said was defending himself and others from a threatening ex-con.
It was decidedly in that context that an online crowdfunding effort designated as “Daniel Penny’s Legal Defense Fund” was started — an effort that has raised nearly $3 million as of Thursday afternoon. In fact, just days after Penny’s legal defense fund was established on the GiveSendGo website, he had raised more than $2 million, with a good portion of the tens of thousands of donors repeatedly thanking the accused killer for taking the law into his own hands and committing homicide.
One anonymous donor morning encouraged similar behavior from others: “We need more people Like Danial Penny,” the donor said.
Or, to sum up what Boston Globe opinion editor and columnist Renee Graham astutely said, right-wing Republicans are financing white vigilantism.
Case and point: Even Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted the link to Penny’s legal defense fund and politicized the prosecution.
“We must defeat the Soros-Funded DAs, stop the Left’s pro-criminal agenda, and take back the streets for law abiding citizens,” DeSantis, a former member of the U.S. Navy, tweeted. “We stand with Good Samaritans like Daniel Penny. Let’s show this Marine… America’s got his back.”
Like Williams, Penny was charged with manslaughter, for which a grand jury indicted him on Wednesday.
In sharp contrast, though, nearly three days after Williams’ mother started “Jordan Williams’ Legal Fund,” also on the GiveSendGo website, which had received less than $10,000 as of Thursday afternoon.
While there were messages of support for Williams — “Defense of self and others is a fundamental right.” one donor wrote, for example — conspicuously missing was any reference to politics among the fewer than 200 donors.
Another key difference between Williams’ case and Penny’s is that Williams was immediately arrested, charged and hauled off to Riker’s Island, New York City’s most notorious jail.
Williams’ mother called out the clear and apparent racial discrepancy of the application of the same law when it came to Williams and Penny.
“Why should Jordan have to suffer at Rikers Island and fight his case from a cage when he defended individuals on that train from danger which was already taking place,” Williams’ mother, April Williams, wrote on the GiveSendGo account. “He should not suffer because he can not afford bail on a case where he simply was justified in the actions he took. Simply stated, these cases have become all too familiar in NYC, and this situation resembles that of Daniel Penny – who is out on bail and able to defend himself freely. We just pray for that same opportunity!!!!”
No lies detected.
To contribute to Jordan Williams’ Legal Fund, click here.
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