The Death of Jordan Neely Sparks Outrage and Raises Questions about Homelessness, Mental Health, and Justice in America

The death of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old homeless street artist, has sparked outrage and protests across New York City and the US. Neely was choked to death by Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old US Marine veteran, on a Manhattan subway on May 1, 2023.[0] Eyewitnesses reported that Neely had been shouting that he was hungry and thirsty and had little to live for before Penny restrained him in a chokehold.[1] The city medical examiner ruled that Neely’s death was a homicide caused by compression of the neck.[2] Penny was charged with second-degree manslaughter and was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, where he was released on $100,000 bond and ordered to surrender his passport within 48 hours and seek permission from the court to leave the state.[3]

The incident has raised questions about race, justice, homelessness, and mental health in America. The death of Neely has been attributed by homeless advocates in New York City to the city’s policies towards those who are homeless.[4] Neely’s death has also focused attention on struggles with mental illness and social services across America.

Penny’s attorneys have expressed their condolences to those close to Neely and said that their client “never intended to harm Mr. Neely and could not have foreseen his untimely death.” They added that they are confident that Penny will be fully absolved of any wrongdoing.[5]

A fundraising page has been set up to cover Penny’s legal fees in the criminal case, any future civil lawsuits, and expenses related to his defense.[6] The fund has stated that any funds that surpass the amount required for Mr. Penny’s legal defense will be given to a mental health advocacy program in New York City, but the particular program has not been specified.[7]

Neely’s death has underscored ongoing racial and economic inequality and the county’s lagging mental healthcare and social services. Moreover, Neely’s death has renewed attention on crime and vigilantism despite low crime rates in New York City.[8] The incident has highlighted the need for better support for people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues and for systemic change to address the underlying issues of inequality and injustice.

0. “Jordan Neely Was on New York’s ‘Top 50’ List of Homeless People at Risk” The New York Times, 13 May. 2023,

1. “‘It’s a failure of the system’: before Jordan Neely was killed, he was discarded” The Guardian US, 12 May. 2023,

2. “Daniel Penny, man accused in deadly F train chokehold, arraigned on manslaughter charge” Gothamist, 13 May. 2023,

3. “Matt Gaetz Says Daniel Penny Is a ‘Subway Superman'” Newsweek, 13 May. 2023,

4. “Daniel Penny is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Jordan Neely” NPR, 12 May. 2023,

5. “Ex-Marine charged with New York subway chokehold death of Jordan Neely” BBC, 12 May. 2023,

6. “Donors kick in $1.2 million for NYC subway chokehold suspect Daniel Penny defense fund” New York Daily News, 13 May. 2023,

7. “Daniel Penny’s lawyers crowdfund defense on site used to raise money for Jan. 6 defendants” Gothamist, 13 May. 2023,

8. “Legal defense fund raises over $1m for accused in Jordan Neely subway death” The Guardian US, 13 May. 2023,

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