Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) sparred with New York City Democratic Mayor Eric Adams over the death of Jordan Neely, a homeless man with an extensive criminal record, at the hands of a former Marine.
Witnesses said Neely embarked on an aggressive rant in a subway train on Monday afternoon, moving erratically and allegedly screaming that he did not care if he went to jail, according to video footage obtained by freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez and a report from the New York Post. Another unnamed passenger, who sources said is a Marine veteran, placed Neely in a chokehold with the help of at least one other passenger. The New York City medical examiner confirmed on Wednesday that Neely’s cause of death was a “chokehold.”
Residents of New York City assembled at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station to protest the death of Neely with chants such as “Black Lives Matter” and “The Homeless Matter,” according to more video footage obtained by Gothamist reporter Samantha Max.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told Newsweek that Neely has a record that includes 42 prior arrests between 2013 and 2021, including an active warrant for assault at the time of his death related to a 2021 incident.
Adams remarked in a statement that the death of Neely underscores the need to assist unwell homeless people rather than permitting them to remain on the streets. “Any loss of life is tragic. There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here, so I’m going to refrain from commenting further,” he said. “I need all elected officials and advocacy groups to join us in prioritizing getting people the care they need and not just allowing them to languish.”
Ocasio-Cortez emphatically disagreed with the statement on social media and countered that Adams was not “able to clearly condemn a public murder because the victim was of a social status some would deem ‘too low’ to care about.” She said Adams had “cut the very services that could have helped him” and said in another social media post that Neely was “houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself.”
Adams was asked in an interview whether he agreed with the sentiment from Ocasio-Cortez that Neely was “murdered.” He responded that the lawmaker’s claim is not “very responsible at the time where we are still investigating the situation,” adding that “we cannot just blatantly say what a passenger should or should not do in a situation like that, and we should allow the investigation to take its course.”
Ocasio-Cortez, a leading advocate for shifting resources away from police forces, contended last month that Adams should fund community social programs rather than implementing a salary increase for police officers.