Pol holds rally for Daniel Penny outside NYC court, drawing hecklers demanding justice for Jordan Neely
Supporters of Daniel Penny, the Long Island Marine veteran arrested for the chokehold death of Jordan Neely earlier this month, squared off with hecklers Wednesday in front of Manhattan Criminal Court.
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman organized the rally to drum up support for Penny, who was recently charged with manslaughter for the May 1 death of Neely. The provocative display came as Neely’s death has divided the city, raising questions about subway safety and the right to self-defense.
Blakeman said he brought the rally to Manhattan in support of Penny, who is from Suffolk County, rather than Nassau County, where he was elected, because his constituents work there.
“Every day, tens of thousands of Nassau County residents commute to New York City to do jobs, to explore entertainment, to go to cultural sites, to enjoy everything that Manhattan has to offer,” he said. “But I’m worried about that. I’m worried about our Nassau County residents ... good Samaritans should be encouraged.”
Rally attendee Vince McGowan, 78, said he believes Penny was carrying out a moral responsibility to “react when somebody is in need.”
“[Neely] was terrorizing people. [Penny] was acting as a good Samaritan,” said McGowan, a Marine veteran from Manhattan. “Being a good Samaritan should not be something that people should fear being prosecuted for.”
Blakeman criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for prosecuting Penny, saying the 24-year-old was trying to help those around him by addressing a man who was “acting in a violent manner that made the people who are riding the subway feel unsafe. "
“[Bragg] puts the rights of criminals over those of law-abiding citizens and victims of crimes,” the pol fumed.
The rally came just days after the funeral for Neely, 30, was held in Harlem. Speakers at the downtown rally, including Councilwoman Vickie Paladino (R-Queens), were eventually drowned out by hecklers and counterprotesters who gathered nearby.
A small group of VOCAL-NY activists said they happened to be in the area to monitor court hearings when they came across the rally.
“The man is a murderer, doesn’t matter how you put it,” Jon McFarlene said of Penny.
“This is just an attempt to sensationalize it by these politicians,” the 50-year-old Queens resident added. “What do you give a s—t about some guy from Suffolk County?”
Several counterprotesters were arrested as they heckled cops along with the Penny supporters. The charges were not immediately known. After less than half an hour, the pro-Penny crowd piled into buses back home.
Army veteran Eric Tobkes said the focus of Neely’s death shouldn’t be Penny, but the city’s mental health, housing and social services.
“They’re glossing over the failures of the system that happened way before this even happened.” said Tobkes, 53, who came to support the Marine. “Neely didn’t wake up one day and lose his mind. There has been a progression, and he has been failed all along the way that led up to this tragedy. It’s absolutely tragic.”