Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called on the nation to show Daniel Penny that "America has your back." Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley asked the governor of New York to pardon Penny, and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy donated $10,000 to her legal defense fund.
Republican presidential candidates lined up to support Penny, a 24-year-old US Navy veteran who was caught on video choking a distressed passenger on the New York subway to the ground. traveler,Jordan Neely, 30 anos, subsequently died of neck compression, according to the coroner.
Penny wasaccused of manslaughter. His lawyers say he actedin self-defense.
He has already become a hero to many Republicans, who hail Penny as a good Samaritan trying to protect others in a Democrat-ruled city they say is unsafe — though criminal justice experts say current crime levels are comparable to from New York. decade ago, when people often praised it as the safest big city in America.
The Republican Party's support for Penny has been unwavering, despite the fact thatNeely, who was black, never had physical contact with anyone on the train before Penny, who is white, put him in a chokehold for several minutes.
The rush to support Penny is reminiscent of how then-President Donald Trump and other top Republicans vehemently supported Kyle Rittenhouse during the 2020 presidential election. Rittenhouse, a white teenager who killed two men and injured a third during a violent night of protests in Wisconsin over the death of a black man, was acquitted.
Recently, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott pledged to pardon Daniel Perry, a white Army sergeant who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for fatally shooting a gunman during a 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in the state capital of Austin. .
Mainstream Republicans have tried to turn rising crime rates into a political liability for Democrats. The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee traveled to New York last month - before Neely was killed - for a hearing examining "victims of violent crime in Manhattan."
Democrats and racial justice advocates counter that the GOP's message of restoring "law and order" plays on entrenched racism.
"They have a plan for winning the election that is based on really exploiting the worst parts of human nature and really generating division and fear at home," said Jumaane Williams, a Democrat who is a New York City public defender. "And if you put race and class into it, it's like Christmas for them."
Neely, known to some travelers as a Michael Jackson impersonator, hadhistory of mental illnessand in the past he was often arrested. Bystanders said he shouted at passengers, begged for money and behaved aggressively, but he did not touch anyone on the train.
Christopher Borick, director of the Institute of Public Opinion at Muhlenberg College, said GOP presidential candidates see Penny's cause as a way to galvanize their party base.
“There are very few gaps within the Republican constituency as it overlaps so well with issues that are incredibly prominent among Republican voters in terms of law and order and fit this narrative of the degeneracy of urban life,” Borick said. "That's the message - the message from Trump and his Republican bloc - that 'lunatics' are a threat and we have to do what we can to protect 'Americans' in whatever way we can."
But the Republican Party's defense of whites after blacks are killed is often very different from incidents in which whites are killed. A prominent example is Ashli Babbitt, a white Air Force veteran who was shot and killed by a black police officer while trying to climb out of a broken window in the U.S. Capitol during the January 6, 2021, riot.
Trump called Babbitt an "innocent, wonderful, incredible woman" and called the black police officer who killed her a "bad guy". Other Republicans mourned her as a martyr.
Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of the Black PAC, said the issue goes beyond the presidential race, noting that some Republican-controlled legislatures have passed measures following a wave of protests in 2020 against institutional racism and police brutality, seeking tougher punishments for demonstrators.
Shropshire, whose group works to increase African-American political engagement and voter turnout, said the issue underscores the GOP's longstanding commitment to "protecting whiteness, which is fundamentally what's at stake."
As for the Democrats,Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezof New York tweeted before the indictment that Neely's "murderer" was "protected" while "many in power demonize the poor". New York City Mayor Eric Adams called Neely's death "a tragedy that should never have happened" but warned against making irresponsible statements before all the facts are known.
Rafael Mangual, director of police and public safety research at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank in New York, said the case contains a deep legal ambiguity that many people on both sides overlook.
"I was very confused to what extent left-wing politicians declared Daniel Penny a murderer and right-wing politicians came out and said, 'This is what we need to do,'" Mangual said. "I don't want to live in a world where maintaining public order is a daily job."
There was no such hesitation among Georgia Republicans.Deputada Marjorie Taylor Greene, who called Penny a "hero", or Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz, who called Penny a "Subway Superman" and once offered Rittenhouse an internship.
Trump, now running for president for a third time, said this week that he had not seen the video but told The Messenger that he thought Penny "was in great danger and the other people in the car were in great danger."
Helping to stoke Republican anger is the fact that Penny's case is being handled by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is leading the prosecution of Trump over allegations that he paid a secret cover-up during his presidential campaign. 2016.
"We must defeat Soros-funded prosecutors, stop the left's pro-criminal agenda, and return the streets to law-abiding citizens," tweeted DeSantis, who is preparing to announce his presidential candidacy in 2024, repeating false claims that the billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros orchestrated Trump's impeachment.
“We support good Samaritans like Daniel Penny,” DeSantis wrote, including a link to a fundraising page for Penny. "Let's show this Marine... that America has his back."
Former Ambassador Haley told Fox News Channel that New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, should pardon Penny. Ramaswamy donated to Penny's defense fund through GiveSendGo, a website that also raised funds to support the rebels who attacked the Capitol the day Babbitt was killed. He raised around $2 million in donations for Penny.
During Neelyn's funeral on Friday, the Rev. Al Sharpton offered a roundabout response to Penny's supporters, saying "a good Samaritan helps those in need, not suffocates them."
Williams, the ombudsman who can investigate citizen complaints about agencies and services, said prominent Republicans have politically capitalized on racial violence since 1988 in political ads featuring Willie Horton, a black murderer who raped a white woman while on leave from prison. He also noted that many of the people now contributing to Penny's defense fund also likely supported cutting wellness programs that could have benefited people like Neely.
"These people are not saying, 'Let's just let it go, see what happens,'" Williams said. "They immediately make a hero out of someone who killed someone on a train who was screaming and screaming that he was hungry."
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