Hundreds of people protest the murder of a black man by a fellow passenger on the New York subway

Hundreds of protesters gathered in New York on Friday to demand charges against a former US Marine who placed another subway passenger in a chokehold that killed him, stoking uproar over the city’s lack of support for the people with mental illness and homelessness.

Protesters displayed signs saying “Justice for Jordan Neely” and “Being poor is not a crime” during a demonstration in Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan on Friday night.

Earlier, the New York Young Communist League protested outside the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, demanding that the unidentified man who killed Neely, 30, on Monday be charged. The protesters also demanded an investigation by the police who, according to local media, let him go after questioning him.

The former Marine, who placed Neely in a chokehold as they both boarded the F train, has not been charged. The district attorney’s office said it was investigating and would review the medical examiner’s report, which concluded Neely’s death was a homicide due to neck compression.

The examiner’s decision alone does not imply intent or guilt, which are matters that prosecutors will consider when deciding whether or not to pursue criminal charges.

Neely, who was black, was homeless, according to local media. The 24-year-old former sailor, who was white, was questioned by police and released on Monday, local media said. Local protest organizers called the act a “lynching” and an example of “white vigilance” against victims of color.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams cited mental health issues as having a role in the incident, but said he would refrain from commenting further while the investigation is ongoing.

A spate of attacks on train passengers last year, particularly Asian Americans, prompted Adams to increase police patrols and spread awareness of the mentally ill on the subway, citing the rise in homelessness as a result of the pandemic.

Video of the incident that circulated on social media showed an unidentified passenger applying a chokehold to a man identified as Neely on the floor of a subway train for more than three minutes. Two other men are seen in the video holding Neely’s arms before he goes limp.

Police are seen outside a subway train on Monday where Neely was killed. (Paul Martinka/Associated Press)

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the video.

Neely was known for impersonating Michael Jackson, dressing and dancing like the legendary musical entertainer on crowded New York trains and stations. The confrontation occurred after he boarded the train and began yelling at passengers, saying he was hungry and ready to die, The New York Times reported, citing police .

Democratic U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose district includes parts of the New York boroughs of the Bronx and Queens, said Neely was murdered and called for the arrest of his killer.

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