Police officials said they had a Molotov cocktail on site Monday night in lower Manhattan at a vigil honoring Jordan Neely, the 30-year-old homeless man who was killed in a deadly stranglehold by another passenger in a subway car of the demonstrations found a week ago.
“We cannot allow people to come out to protest with what we call a peaceful protest and bring out dangerous substances like this,” Department Chief Jeffrey Maddrey told a news conference late Monday, adding that police had made at least 11 arrests made a protest.
“Agitators coming in from outside our city with Molotov cocktails, that’s something we should all be concerned about,” Mayor Eric Adams told THE CITY Monday at an independent event in Howard Beach, Queens.
The comments from city officials came after a crackdown on protesters Tuesday night that saw 11 protesters, including a journalist, arrested at a vigil for Neely.
The vigil began quietly, with a small group of protesters chanting Neely’s name on the Broadway-Lafayette subway platform, and several dozen others gathered on the sidewalk above to make speeches and chants.
But it quickly turned into chaos as dozens of police officers lined up on the sidewalk began to crowd into the group for targeted arrests. Officers pushed activist Dwreck Ingram into the street, pushed him to the ground and pinned him while another protester, blood dripping from his forehead, was carted to a police van.
“This is a vigil for a friggin’ homeless man,” cried Justin Pines, 26, after the initial arrests. “Where were you when Justin Neely was killed?”
The protest and vigil came a week later Neely kills in a subway car stopped at the Broadway-Lafayette station in Lower Manhattan by Daniel Penny, a 24-year-old former Marine, who placed him in a fatal chokehold. Earlier in the day, Neely’s family had called for Penny’s incarceration and begged the mayor to speak to them about their son.
Mayor Eric Adams told THE CITY Monday night – ahead of his only public appearance of the day at an event at a Queens catering hall – that he had earlier tried to reach Neely’s family to offer his condolences.
“I’ve reached out to them several times to offer them my condolences,” he said at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, adding that he tried to get in touch with the family today. Adams also noted that Neely shared the same first name as his son, Jordan Coleman.
Police leadership was often blamed during the height of protests following the 2020 killing of George Floyd “external stirrer” and claimed they found weapons of various kinds to justify violent crackdowns on protesters. The tactic has been used ever since condemned by international human rights groups And Attorney General Letitia James, Cost $20 million in legal settlements and censuses, according to the Court’s office.
The protesters who spoke to THE CITY Monday night were New Yorkers. Some had planned to attend the vigil in advance, while others, like 23-year-old Clover St Hubert, who drove past on the train and felt compelled to join.
“I am a black artist. I am a black mentally ill artist. it could have been me It could have been any of my friends,” St. Hubert said.
As protesters marched down Essex Street to the NYPD’s 7th Precinct to meet those previously arrested, they passed Cheyenne Taylor, 31, who joined in the chanting. While she was recently put in a safe bed, she said she’s known Neely on the road for six years.
“He just got out of prison,” she said. “He just wanted food. He didn’t have to die.”
This article has been updated to reflect recent developments.