At about 6 p.m. on Saturday, protestors demonstrating against the lack of repercussions for Daniel Penny – the 24-year-old former Marine who fatally choked 30-year-old Jordan Neely on Monday, May 1 – jumped onto the Q train subway tracks at the East 63rd Street station, “causing a hazardous condition and an interruption to train service,” according to a police report. The southbound train stopped as the conductor saw the individuals on the tracks.
At 6:18 p.m., the MTA tweeted, “F/Q trains are delayed in both directions while we request NYPD assistance for people being disruptive at Lexington Av/63 St.” Shortly thereafter at 6:24 p.m., a Twitter user posted this video from the scene of the protest with a crowd assembled on the tracks chanting, “no justice, no peace.” At one point you can hear a woman off-camera screaming at a male protester to get away from the high-voltage third rail before the protest chant changes to repeating “Jordan Neely.”
Footage shared by The Wall Street Journal shows the clash between protestors and police on the platform as a male protestor repeats “composure is discipline” through a megaphone in a visibly supercharged moment. By 7 p.m., subway service had resumed with delays in both directions, said the MTA.
While 13 people have been arrested according to the New York Daily News, NYPD officials put out a notice on Sunday afternoon stating they’re currently looking for six of the protestors, who they say fled the location after the incident.
The New York Times described Jordan Neely as “a regular on the subway, once a gifted Michael Jackson impersonator, but he was also troubled. City workers had tried to help him for years.” Neely’s name was on a “top 50” list kept by NYC outreach workers – “a roster maintained by the city of the homeless people living on the street whom officials consider most urgently in need of assistance and treatment.” Neely was taken to the hospital several times, both voluntarily and involuntarily, said an outreach employee who spoke to The Times anonymously.
Jordan Neely’s friend, busker Mark Pickett, told the New York Daily News he looked troubled just hours before his death on the subway. “He was actually dragging his Michael Jackson jacket on the ground,” said Pickett, who also works as a street performer. “He’s got his hat in his hand and he’s walking, staring off into space. He looked like he didn’t care about the traffic. His T-shirt didn’t look too clean. I didn’t say anything because I had another set to do. I didn’t think he was having emotional problems. I just thought somebody took his bucket of tips.”
Pickett went on to describe how Neely’s death rocked the street performing community. “There’s a place that all the performers are in Times Square on 47th St. Everybody’s talking about him because everybody knew him,” Pickett said. “Everyone is shocked.”
A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg issued a press release saying the investigation into the death of Jordan Neely is an “Ongoing investigation.”