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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.

This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Jordan Neely, a vulnerable young man, was killed – and not by his medical history | Moustafa Bayoumi | The Guardian

Jordan Neely, a vulnerable young man, was killed – and not by his medical history | Moustafa Bayoumi

"Jordan Neely was choked to death in the middle of the day on a New York City subway car on Monday, and since then people from New York City’s leaders to media commentators have put the focus on the 30-year-old Black man’s mental health. The New York governor, Kathy Hochul, stated that “some of the factors” in Neely’s death were “people who are homeless in our subways, many of them in the throes of mental health episodes”. Mayor Eric Adams spoke about “serious mental health issues in play here”. John Macari, a retired New York police lieutenant and podcaster told Fox News: “You have people commuting on a train who have to deal with mentally ill people who are a danger to themselves and others.”

But Jordan Neely didn’t kill himself. He was killed, and not by his medical history. A 24-year-old white ex-marine put him in a chokehold for “some 15 minutes”, according to Juan Alberto Vazquez, a witness at the scene, and the medical examiner has ruled Neely’s death a homicide. So instead of focusing on Neely’s past, maybe we should be asking what kind of state of mind does it take to strangle a man to death in public.

I don’t know anything more about this ex-marine. I don’t even know his name, since the authorities have not released it, but I do know that Jordan Neely did not deserve to die. According to news accounts, Neely – who was unhoused and a known Michael Jackson impersonator – boarded a northbound F Train and began screaming about his distress. He was yelling about not having any food, and nothing to drink, and how he was tired and ready to go to jail. He took off his black jacket and threw it on the ground.

As discomfiting as such behavior may be for some folks to witness, there has always been a simple and non-violent New York City answer to such encounters. Move to another subway car! (The train was stopped, with the doors open.)

Instead, according to news reports, the ex-marine tackled Neely and put him in a chokehold that lasted about six minutes longer than Derek Chauvin’s knee was pressed on George Floyd’s neck, killing Floyd, in Minneapolis in 2020. He had help from a couple of other men while people were casually milling about and filming as Neely’s life came to an end.

What state of mind compels someone to use such deadly violence? Military training? Racist beliefs? Misplaced heroism? As of now, who knows, but whatever it was, it wasn’t justified. According to Vazquez, the witness, Neely hadn’t physically attacked anyone before he was tackled. And you don’t have to view the video – please don’t, it’s awful to watch – which is gruesome in its ordinariness, to see how Neely is treated not as a human being but as an object to be violently manipulated and controlled. In fact, in our society vulnerable people like Neely are almost always treated like objects to be violently manipulated and controlled.

Vasquez was also quoted as saying: “It’s fine that citizens want to jump in and help. But I think as heroes we have to use moderation.” But who’s asking for heroes in the first place? In a society as militarized and rewarding of violence as ours, there’s nothing more dangerous than someone who believes he’s a hero. (As Bertolt Brecht memorably put it: “Unhappy is the land that is in need of heroes.”)

What state of mind does it take to think that policing will solve all our social ills, only to have the NYPD, funded at $10.8bn, completely absent from the daytime death of a man in a busy subway station in the middle of Manhattan? A 2022 investigation by the Guardian and the University of Washington found that between 2015 and 2020, deaths among people living without housing in 20 urban areas in the United States rose by 77%. Who exactly do the police protect?

Beyond state of mind, we must also think about our state. In what kind of state can this 24-year-old ex-marine be taken in for questioning by the police, only to be released the same day? Had the races of assailant and victim been reversed, does anyone think the situation would be the same? Do you really think we still wouldn’t know his name if it sounded like a Muslim name?

Based on what he was saying, what Jordan Neely wanted was some food to eat and a place to sleep. What does that say about us? What kind of state do we live in where poverty is not only considered a badge of shame but also a source of fear? What kind of state do we live in where we spend more money hiding unhoused people from our eyes than finding them affordable housing? What kind of state do we live in where talk of mental health concerns is everywhere but so little of it is in invested with solutions. There comes a point when all the mental health discourse begins to sound more like an alibi than a priority.

Jordan Neely’s killer must be arrested and face justice. Of that there is no doubt, just as there’s no doubt that in the near future, we will be bombarded with every mental health episode and every police encounter Neely ever had. Through it all, I expect the focus will return, with deadly repetition, to Neely’s mental health. Much of it will be sensationalist and driven by fearmongering, while some it might even consider the ways that endemic poverty, lack of housing, various forms discrimination, social and family trauma are all connected to an individual’s mental health. But what will largely go missing is this way we have of talking about an individual’s mental health precisely so that we don’t have to talk about our larger societal health.

Because if we looked into it honestly, what we’d see is a society enthralled by its own hierarchies and beholden to its traditions of violence. What we’d see is a society in desperate need of healing.

  • Moustafa Bayoumi is the author of the award-winning books How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America and This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror. He is professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York"

Jordan Neely, a vulnerable young man, was killed – and not by his medical history | Moustafa Bayoumi | The Guardian

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