Neely, a 30-year-old homeless man with a history of mental illness, was choked to death by a 24-year-old man on a New York City subway after a witness said he was acting aggressively toward other passengers.
“The man got on the subway car and began to say a somewhat aggressive speech, saying he was hungry, he was thirsty, that he didn’t care about anything, he didn’t care about going to jail, he didn’t care that he gets a big life sentence,” Juan Alberto Vazquez, a passenger who recalled fearing for his life, previously said. “That ‘It doesn’t even matter if I died.'”
According to reports, the 24-year-old rider held Neely in a chokehold for roughly 15 minutes. The subway entertainer was unconscious on the car floor when officers arrived and ultimately died at the scene, according to the New York Police Department. The 24-year-old rider who delivered the chokehold was questioned and released by NYPD and hasn’t been charged.
Donald Grant, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, said the chokehold death is a clear example of white vigilantism, which has become an increasing threat to the safety of Black Americans.
“It reignites the terror in the souls of Black folks when we witness these killings of our people without trial, without jury, without adjudication,” said Grant, author of the book “White on White Crime: Old Lies in Contemporary Times.” “This vigilante activity is really a reminder of the dangerous conditions that Black Americans exist in now.”
Grant added that every killing of Black Americans requires “public outrage for our humanity to be recognized in a way that doesn’t allow us to be murdered like animals in public spaces.”
The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner confirmed last week that Neely died because of “compression of neck.” Tyrone Irby, a native New Yorker, said the incident is reminiscent of the killings of Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery.
Civil rights attorney Mario Williams said he passes homeless people who sometimes make comments or act out on his way to work in downtown Atlanta “but no one goes up and chokes them.”
Grant believes the vigilante deaths of Neely, Martin, Arbery, and more stem from racism and white supremacy.
“And so white superiority ideology is a combination of all those things: historical context, white supremacy, racism, classism and a system that has been supported through literature, through film, through journalism. And those messages are consistent. We can’t continue to excuse vigilantism,” Grant said.