Jordan Neely deserved better than what our cruel, racist society gave him

Michael Arceneaux
4 min readMay 4

Black men in crisis deserve care, not viral deaths by vigilantes.

Photo: Mariela Lombard

On the northbound F train at the Broadway-Lafayette station around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Jordan Neely was shouting about being hungry, thirsty, and ready to die.

“I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up,” he screamed according to observers on the MTA train in New York. “I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I’m ready to die.”

Although passengers did say the 30-year-old was harassing passengers and making threats, he hadn’t actually attacked anyone before he was placed in a chokehold by a 24-year-old former Marine.

The marine, whose name has yet to be revealed to the public, was trying to subdue Jordan, and following a struggle, succeeded as Jordan began to lose consciousness as he continued to choke him. The marine was assisted by a second man who turned on Jordan on his side as he continued to kick his legs until his body gave out. After police arrived at the scene, Jordan was rushed to Lenox Hill Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The description alone warrants the categorization of murder, but video capturing the incident makes it all the more apparent.

King, one of the self-described witnesses, told the New York Daily News that the incident was “very disturbing to watch.”

“He wasn’t conscious, he wasn’t responsive, and the man still had him in the headlock,” he apparently “quietly said.”

I could not bring myself to watch the video in full, but I have come across the images of a white man choking a Black man to his death across my social media feeds.

It recalls the imagery of the NYPD officers who choked Eric Garner to death on Staten Island — minus the badges.

Based on the reporting by some outlets, however, the white marine is being treated to the same sort of favorable treatment as any white cop that kills an unarmed Black person.

Lots of passive language and curious phrasing that makes the victim out to be the Black man rather than the white aggressor who stole his life.

Michael Arceneaux

New York Times bestselling author of “I Can’t Date Jesus” and “I Don’t Want To Die Poor.”