Conservatives Rally Around Daniel Penny

$2M raised for his legal defense so far
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
Conservatives Rally Around Man Accused of Fatal Subway Chokehold
Daniel Penny leaves Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday, May. 12, 2023, in New York.   (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)

A Christian fundraising site collecting money for Daniel Penny has raised more than $2 million for the legal defense of the Marine veteran who faces manslaughter charges for allegedly putting Jordan Neely in a fatal chokehold aboard a New York subway earlier this month. The GiveSendGo fundraiser, which was posted by the law firm representing Penny, says the 24-year-old was "protecting individuals on a NYC subway train from an assailant who later died." Witnesses are split on how threatening Neely was before he died, Fox News reports; one, for example, says he was threatening to kill passengers aboard the train while another says that while he was screaming, he did not physically attack anyone.

Among those urging people to donate to Penny's legal defense fund: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who says Penny should know "America's got his back." One very well-known American who has his back is Kid Rock, who donated $5,000 to the crowdfunding campaign, Fox News reports. Another: Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy; the entrepreneur donated $10,000 and said in an interview with Fox News that Neely, who suffered from mental health issues, should have been behind bars or institutionalized. Contributions to the fund above and beyond what Penny ends up needing will be donated to a New York mental health advocacy program. The New York Times says other right-wing figures and groups have similarly embraced Penny's cause.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign for Neely's family has raised $135,000. Lawyers for Neely's family say the way Penny's attorneys are painting their client's actions is "character assassination." The statement, they say, aims to paint Neely in a bad light "in an effort to convince us Jordan's life was 'worthless.'" Neely, the Los Angeles Times reports, was known locally as a Michael Jackson impersonator who sometimes moon-walked through the subway; he'd been arrested multiple times, sometimes for violent incidents on the subway. "The truth is," the statement continues, "[Penny] knew nothing about Jordan's history when he intentionally wrapped his arms around Jordan's neck, and squeezed and kept squeezing." (More Jordan Neely stories.)

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