AOC rushed to judgment: Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has accused New York City Mayor Eric Adams of reaching “a new low.” Why? Because of the statement Adams issued in response to the death of a homeless man riding the subway.
Here’s what happened on the subway
What happened exactly remains unknown. The details right now are sparse.
On May 1st, a homeless man, later identified as 30-year-old Jordan Neely, was riding the subway when he “allegedly expressed verbal frustration to fellow passengers on the train.” In response, an unidentified passenger placed Neely in a chokehold, while other passengers pinned back Neely’s arms. An autopsy ruled that Neely’s death was a homicide and that the cause of death was “compression of neck.”
Here’s how Mayor Adams responded
“Any loss of life is tragic,” Adams began. “There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here, so I’m going to refrain from commenting further. However, we do know that 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. And I need all elected officials and advocacy groups to join us in prioritizing getting people the care they need and not just allowing them to languish.”
So, pretty basic stuff for an elected official: he doesn’t really commit given the vagueness of available details; he appeals to bigger picture policy concerns. Very standard.
“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.”
Breaking down AOC’s response
In tweets, if not in legislating, AOC speaks for the left. And on the left, the chokehold is closely associated with racism, oppression, et cetera et cetera. The use of the chokehold wasn’t really a mainstream political issue until recently – not until George Floyd’s death in 2020. But the chokehold had been relevant since Eric Garner’s death in 2014.
The point is that AOC knows that in keeping her progressives chops up on social media, she needs to condemn chokeholds strongly – especially when the chokehold is conducted against a homeless man.
But what AOC gets wrong here is that she doesn’t really know what happened on the subway. She doesn’t know if Neely was murdered. That would depend upon the intent of the man who applied the chokehold. And AOC doesn’t know if there were any exculpation defenses. Self-defense, for example. Was the man who applied the chokehold acting for fear of his own life or safety? Mayor Adams doesn’t seem to know. I’ve got a pretty good idea AOC doesn’t know either. But in sensing the opportunity for some Twitter likes, AOC jumps to conclusions about what happened on the subway, and what Adams’s thought process was when crafting his response statement.
The District Attorney is investigating: AOC should have waited
The Manhattan DA is investigating the incident, obviously. “As part of our rigorous ongoing investigation, we will review the Medical Examiner’s report, assess all available video and photo footage, identify and interview as many witnesses as possible, and obtain additional medical records…”
Basically, the DA is working to understand what happened before they accuse someone of murder. In the future, AOC should probably do the same.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.