Statement on the Killing of Jordan Neely
Friday, May 5, 2023 – Earlier this week, Jordan Neely, an unhoused Black man, suffered an apparent mental health episode aboard a Manhattan subway train. Neely reportedly screamed, “I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up” while throwing his jacket on the floor. Another passenger, an ex-Marine, put Neely in a chokehold while two other men restrained Neely’s arms and legs. Instead of being met with compassion, Neely had his life squeezed out of him by three strangers.
The Center for Family Representation (CFR) strongly condemns what activists have called a “semi-sanctioned vigilante response” to those struggling with mental health crises and homelessness in New York City. As we continue to process this tragic act of violence, we recognize that as an organization, CFR represents primarily Black and Brown clients – many of whom are unstably housed or live with significant mental health needs. Neely’s death is another painful reminder of the fact that Black and Brown people – particularly those who are financially or psychologically vulnerable – are targets of prejudice, harassment, and physical harm every day. No one’s fear should be someone else’s death sentence.
We know what can keep all New Yorkers safer: safe and secure affordable housing, eviction prevention measures, accessible and quality mental health services, well-funded schools, and other robust social safety net programs. And yet, the City continues to overfund systems of policing. We, too, are fed up by the City’s habit of meeting crisis with violence.
Neely spent time in the foster system after his mother was murdered, followed by stays in shelters and public spaces, never acquiring stable housing and support. In the words of Dorothy Roberts, Neely was “abandoned” by these systems. At CFR, we have witnessed poor, marginalized, and Black and Brown people continue to be failed by the very systems meant to protect their families, but that instead perpetuate cruelty and racism. We are committed to working toward a world where all families – particularly Black families – can live without the traumas of separation and violence.
Photograph: Jake Offenhartz/AP