Media reported the dead man's history of disorderly conduct arrests
This is how they wrote about it:
Yesterday, on a subway train in Manhattan, for the crime of being loud and disruptive and publicly mad about being hungry, a white man killed a black man by choking him to death. Two people came to help. They helped the man doing the choking hold down the man being killed. A bystander recorded three and a half minutes of this on video, but did not intervene. He reportedly told the New York Post that he had “mixed feelings” about the incident. The dead man was, after all, yelling. (It’s a graphic story I will not link to, can find it on your own if you want to.)
Several outlets saw fit to detail the criminal record of the man who was killed, but failed to even name the man who caused him to die. Evidence of the former has been scrubbed from some outlets in the last 24 hours (NYPost screenshot above: “Updated”), but others have left it.
I don’t think I need to go through why this makes each and every person who touched any of these stories, from the cop sources to the copy editors, a complete and total ghoul. But I do have something to say about it. Those details were meant to convey to readers that a man who was choked to death for making someone uncomfortable was a “criminal” who deserved to die. I think they convey something very different.
Jordan Neely’s criminal record does matter to me. It paints a picture of a man who lived under constant harassment and surveillance, despite causing very little actual trouble to anybody.
The quote is “44 prior arrests, including assault, disorderly conduct, and fare evasion.” It means that NYPD sources leaked a dead man’s record of arrests, many of which were likely sealed, almost certainly violating the law. He has likely never been arrested for a felony, and almost certainly never convicted of one, or they would have said that in beg, red, bold letters. There probably would have been a whole Post article about it.
In 44 arrests, the most serious they can pick out is assault (I’ve seen people be charged with assault for scratching someone), disorderly conduct (not a crime, also one of the things people get charged with when the cops beat them up for no reason), and fare evasion (describes poverty, not criminality, and is largely not prosecuted anymore in recognition of such).
In his young life, Jordan Neely was put in handcuffs at least 44 times. He was forced into a cop car. Fingerprinted. Treated like shit at the police station. Put through central bookings. Spent full nights in a cold, cement box waiting to see a judge. I would guess he was sent to Rikers more than once because he couldn’t afford bail, though I would be shocked if he’d actually be sentenced to more than a handful of days at a time. He was likely at some point forced into some kind of treatment that he didn’t want, didn’t work for him, and/or he couldn’t afford.
It’s not a “criminal record” as much as it is a long record of state violence against this man. It tells me the police harassed him regularly for nothing more than his poverty, his race, and potentially his mental illness.
The people of New York failed him in life as much as we failed him on the day he died.
RIP Jordan, may you find peace.