You Can't Just Kill Someone On the Subway
We should not live in a society where a man walks free after taking a life.
I have been uncomfortable on the New York City subway more times than I can count. This happens more often now, the end result of a systematic defunding of social services and a mayor who has treated people experiencing homelessness as public enemy number one, forcing them into the subways and then plaguing them with aggressive policing. Things are bad — almost every day you see someone who is in a crisis of some sort with no one to help them. This can be uncomfortable, disconcerting, sad, and sometimes scary; last year I spent a particularly tense 10 minutes on the A train while a man stood over me muttering obscenities and violent imagery. That was not my fault and it was probably not the man’s fault either — I have no idea what he was going through. But what it demonstrates is that for a long time now, the politicians and media responsible for designing and supporting systems that keep human beings alive and dignified have failed. In their place is a culture of fear and anger and callous disregard. Often it leads to death.
On Monday afternoon, a white former Marine choked a Black homeless man to death on the subway. The victim, 30-year-old Jordan Neely, was a long-time subway performer famous for his Michael Jackson impersonations. A YouTube page dedicated to Neely noted a year ago that he was “missing” in New York City, and an earlier video of him asking for help on the subway shows that by the time of his death, he had, like millions of others in this country, slipped through society’s gaping cracks into a dire situation he couldn’t escape.
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