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The Real Victims of the System

State of the Union: Without the right to self-defense, you have no others.

(Clari Massimiliano/Shutterstock)

You have the right to defend yourself. If you don’t take my word for it, how about the words of Our Lord and the Western traditions that stem from them?

If all that’s too spiritual, too ephemeral, how about New York state law, which holds jurisdiction over the unfolding case of the death of Jordan Neely and says a person can use physical force on another if they have reason to believe force is necessary to defend themselves or others?


Neely, a homeless, mentally ill thirty-year-old, was reportedly on the New York subway’s F train Monday afternoon when he started going on a threatening rant about his hunger and thirst when multiple men on the train restrained him. One of the men who restrained Neely was a 24-year-old former marine who placed Neely in a chokehold, a video captured by freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez apparently shows. The video depicts continue to struggle as the group of men try to restrain him. 

Eventually, Neely goes unconscious, and the video later shows the men who restrained Neely and other passengers checking on him. “He’ll be alright,” one of the passengers is heard saying as he checks on Neely. The subway’s conductor reportedly called 911 to the Broadway-Lafayette Street/Bleecker Street station where the train had stopped. Once EMS arrived at the station, they were unable to revive Neely. 

From Vazquez’s comments to the New York Post, it appears EMS and police took a long time to respond to the call. “This would never have happened if the police had shown up within five minutes,” Vazquez told the Post. If they had, “Then we’d be talking about a true hero. It’s complicated.”

Vazquez said that prior to the men restraining Neely, the mentally ill homeless man was screaming about his hunger and thirst. “‘I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison,’” Neeley said, according to Vazquez. “‘I’m ready to die.’”

Neely’s criminal record is extensive. A spokesperson for the New York Police Department said that Neeley’s record includes forty-two prior arrests from 2013 to 2021, including four assaults. Neely also had one active assault warrant from 2021.


Progressives quickly took the opportunity to stoke outrage. I’m sure they hope it’s fiery but mostly peaceful. Just as they attempted to turn George Floyd from petty criminal to gentle giant, they’re now attempting to turn Neely from serial lawbreaker and harasser to an innocent Michael Jackson impersonator—as if impersonating a pedophile publicly is a redeeming quality—who stunned subway riders with his talents, working only for requested tips.

Meanwhile, the unnamed Marine, the only man of those who restrained Neely worth mentioning on account of his white skin, has been labeled a vigilante by NYC Comptroller Brad Lander, a murderer by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a racist who participated in a modern-day public “lynching” by New York State Senator Julia Salazar.

Others seeking to defend Neely suggest he was a victim of the system. A victim of a system that fails to provide adequate food and housing for people like Neeley. Maybe so: Neely probably should have been institutionalized, though that’s not what progressives mean when they talk about such things. Most of all, they suggest Neely was a victim of a racist system, which permeates and supersedes all others.

If Neely was a victim, then the 24-year-old Marine, the men who joined him in restraining Neely, and the passengers Neely threatened on the train—not to mention the other passengers Neely harassed for the last decade—are even more so, both literally and systemically. They are victims of a system created by Defund the Police, Inc., in which disorder, violence, and filth are permissible and self defense is not. Without the right to self defense, the right to protect the lives of yourself and others, you have no others. You have to wonder if that's exactly what they want.