thoughts after jordan neely


de-escalation, intervention, conflict

[a couple are uk-specific (but gr8!) cuz they came from our pal bryony; ty bry!!]

– Right To Be: “The 5 Ds of Bystander Intervention”
– Hollaback!: 5Ds of Bystander Intervention (YouTube)
– National Sexual Violence Resource Center: Bystander Intervention Tips & Strategies (Sexual Harassment)

– daikon*: “against ‘hate crime’: on resisting the framing of racist attacks as ‘hate crimes’ and refusing complicity with the police (audio)

– Sarah Lamble: “Practising Everyday Abolition” (from Abolishing the Police: An Illustrated Introduction) + audio

Truthout: “To Transform Conflict in Movements, We Must Learn How to Stay in It Together”
– Interrupting Criminalization: 
“In It Together [Toolkit]: A Framework for Conflict Transformation In Movement-Building Groups”


longer texts
[abolition, nationalism, police, power, prisons, race]
 // “texts” folder includes (all okay’d for distro) Angela Davis’s Are Prisons Obsolete (Seven Stories, 2003), Jackie Wang’s Carceral Capitalism (Semiotext(e), 2018), Alex S. Vitale’s The End of Policing (Verso, 2017), Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist Assemblages (Duke, 2017, expanded from 2007) +++ main folder includes King’s “Where We Are Going” & transcription of his “Beyond Vietnam”


jordan neely (life & death)

– Albert Burneko @ Defector: “Jordan Neely Just Needed Some Help”
– Errol Louis @ Intelligencer: “Jordan Neely Was Already Dead: NY reckons with a homeless epidemic & a killing”
– Brand @ Gothamist: “Who was Jordan Neely? Friends recall ‘sweet kid,’ talented performer”
– Read @ Curbed: “Jordan Neely’s Life As a Michael Jackson Impersonator: ‘I Was Always in Awe Seeing Him Dance’”
– Oladipo @ the Guardian: “Jordan Neely: man killed by rider’s chokehold was talented dancer”
– Nick Pinto @ Hell Gate: “Confusion, Shock, & the Bystander Effect on the Train Where Jordan Neely Was Killed”




i’ve been trying to write a thing for a few days & haven’t quite figured out how or what…? but this is some rambling abt the importance of radicalization, whiteness & complicity, carceral logics & abolition, & direct intervention. just if you are “interested” (?) & i’ll add other/better resources as i find them. (feel free to email me w/ subject line “BEING IN THE WORLD”.)

lots of you don’t know me, so to first establish some norms:

• a ~political stance~ of “voting for democrats will fix things” is delusional. biden, hochul, adams et al. are irredeemable.

• giving jordan neely a meal would not have saved his life––though we do need food, permanent shelter, universal health care, & free public transit for all.

• it is bad to kill people.

• even if they upset or frighten you; even if you are a scared b*tch; even if they cause you Actual Physical Harm (which neely did not).

• the pandemic has exacerbated the poisonous effects of white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.

• there are sick people walking around looking for an excuse to kill someone.

• christina sharpe (@hystericalblkns) calls ithysterical whiteness,” this move from “someone is upset & yelling” to “i am in danger that justifies violence.”

“Hysterical whiteness makes blackness the provoking agent of the mass hysteria that is the province of whiteness itself.” (Ordinary Notes)


• the solution is not (yet still!) more cops. this happened because daniel penny [believed he] was being a cop, doing their work. this is how the carceral state operates.


(christina sharpe quoting frank b. wilderson iii: white people “are not simply ‘protected’ by the police, they are––in their corporeality––the police,” & then back to sharpe, “Whiteness being a name for property and its violent protection.”)

“Whiteness being a name for property and its violent protection.”

(surely penny believed he was protecting people like me.)

• believing in abolition means understanding that we are better without prisons & without police –– & that carceral logics are a damaging trap.

(shed the conviction that individuals are solely responsible for their f*ckups; that control, punishment, isolation, & exclusion can fix problems caused by bad actors; that we need to protect the “innocent” by punishing the “guilty”)

• it is not a solution to arrest “the bad guys” after the fact.

(the impulse to think that “justice” for jordan neely would mean putting penny in jail––the desperate desire to find justice for the dead––that anger, especially when it’s righteous, is easier than grief––or guilt––or inescapable & incontrovertible loss––or, we’re left with these killers; now what?)

• abolition means bigger dreams than that. it means changes that currently seem impossible.

• for me, “accountability” means, when i’m able, responding to harm with questions; honest self-reflection; admitting both limits & capacity for harm.

• further: an understanding of what sh*t is By Design, & the ways i’m Caught Up.

––––––––– [last chunk gets kinda me-specific / possibly indulgent / def v ~thinking out loud~?? but if you’re white & don’t know what you would’ve done on that train, likely worth reading (i mean u already made it this far); point is to do some realistic review / introspection / preparation rather than just thinking “wow those people were heartless, i am v different” – jh from 5.7] –––––––––

• for me, EASY TRUTHS include: i would never put a person in a chokehold; i do not have violent impulses toward those i read as unwell or distraught.

• HARDER TRUTHS: when i read men like penny as “healthy” but violent (!), i am less likely to be patient or measured. i’ve had the experience of being (tho the word irks me) “triggered” by white men behaving violently. when this happens, i am less ~cool~ / commanding & more angry / shaky––meaning, more likely to escalate, or to be dismissed. some of my attempts at intervention have not seemed “successful.”

(though: you will rarely know if you succeed in saving someone’s life, & you will definitely know if you fail.)

• TRUTH THAT SHOULD BE HARDEST BUT FEELS PRETTY NORMAL: when i see a lone stranger in crisis that doesn’t appear immediately life-threatening, i often walk away. (meaning: i would likely have avoided entering the same car as jordan neely if he seemed unwell.)

• idk what it means to see someone as both healthy & violent––or tbh what it means to see anyone as “healthy.” under any reasonable definition of the word, penny’s actions were those of someone sick; people didn’t intervene loudly & forcibly because they couldn’t see it.

• i am trying to move toward an operating stance of something likeinappropriate behavior may mean a person is unwell. if they are causing harm, i will note this; if that harm is acute, i will do so loudly.

• there are lotsa things out there on de-escalating; hollaback’s 5 Ds (Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, & Direct) = a classic. (if you haven’t already, go read that instead.)

• i’m thinking here about the specifics of an extreme situation requiring direct intervention. penny was helped by multiple other men, & i am small; it would likely have been most effective to communicate foreseeable consequences & make them aware of their culpability (vs. say, getting restrained myself for hysterically decking a guy, despite that sounding v On Brand).

• obviously very easy from here! but in this case that could have been something like, (loudly) say what seems wrong (& why); ask if they intend this wrong; suggest alternatives.

• this would work even for people who didn’t see what had happened, assumed neely must have assaulted someone, etc.:  chokeholds can be fatal; [ask] are you trying to kill this person? [alternatives] if you need to restrain someone, it should be by their wrists.

• i realize this is bare minimum sh*t, but that’s… kinda where we’re at, isn’t it?

…okay i have to go––for the record, i’m not trying to pretend sh*t is easy, & i’ll try to add more Real Resources later. maybe you can find your own here:

i don’t rly know what the point of this is, except to say that things are feeling kinda f*cked; we need to get better. i luv our town & trains & am very, very, sorry we let jordan down.

— j