Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., butted heads with New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday over the recent death of a homeless man on the city subway system.
Ocasio-Cortez voiced outrage Wednesday night over the death of Jordan Neely, a man who lost his life while being restrained by other passengers during a mental breakdown on the New York City subway where he was yelling at and threatening passengers.
A 24-year-old Marine veteran reportedly put Neely in a chokehold for about 15 minutes. Two other passengers restrained Neely by holding down his arms and pinning down his shoulders.
Neely lost consciousness during the incident. EMTs arrived to revive him, but he was taken to a hospital and declared dead soon after.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, speaks during a House Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Neely’s death a homicide caused by pressure to the neck.
The Marine veteran was taken into custody by New York Police Department officers and released without charges. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office promised to review the Medical Examiner’s report and video and photo footage, identify and interview witnesses and obtain medical records.
“Jordan Neely was murdered,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on social media Wednesday. “But [because] Jordan was houseless and crying for food in a time when the city is raising rents and stripping services to militarize itself while many in power demonize the poor, the murderer gets protected [with] passive headlines [and] no charges. It’s disgusting.”
The mayor put out a statement around the same time Wednesday, refraining from making extensive comments until more information was available.
“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,” Adams said in a press statement.
He continued, “However, we do know there were serious mental health issues in play here which is why our administration has made record investment in providing care to those who ended it and getting people off the streets and subways, and out of dangerous situations.”
Ocasio-Cortez, sharing Adams’ statement, called the tempered response “a new low” for refusing to call Neely’s death a murder.
“This honestly feels like a new low: not being able to clearly condemn a public murder because the victim was of a social status some would deem ‘too low’ to care about,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “The last sentence is especially rich from an admin trying to cut the very services that could have helped him.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams takes questions after a news conference in the Bronx. (Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Adams, appearing later on “CNN Primetime” to discuss the situation, was asked for a response to the congresswoman’s outrage.
“I don’t think that’s very responsible at a time when we’re still investigating the situation. Let’s let the DA conduct his investigation with the law enforcement officials, to really interfere with that is not the right thing to do,” he replied. “And I’m going to be responsible and allow them to do their job and allow them to determine what exactly happened here.”
Protesters held a vigil for Neely on Wednesday night, with dozens of people protesting at the Broadway-Lafayette subway station. Demonstrators shouted “Black Lives Matter” and “F— Eric Adams” at the platform.
“This is a solemn and serious matter that ended in the tragic loss of Jordan Neely’s life,” Bragg’s office said in a Thursday statement. “This investigation is being handled by senior, experienced prosecutors and we will provide an update when there is additional public information to share. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office encourages anyone who witnessed or has information about this incident to call 212-335-9040.”