Conservative support soars for Daniel Penny after Jordan Neely's murder

Little is known about the political views of Daniel Penny, the former Marine accused of fatally strangling Jordan Neely on the New York City subway.

But since the arrest of Mr. Penny on Friday being charged with second-degree murder, she was quickly embraced by far-right political figures and groups.

A campaign to raise money for his legal defense — founded on GiveSendGo, a self-described Christian crowdfunding site that is also used to raise funds for some of those arrested in the January 6 attack on the Capitol — has raised more than $1.8 million since Sunday. Evening.

In urging his followers to donate to the fund, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a possible Republican presidential nominee, compared Mr Penny to the good Samaritan, a biblical figure who came to help a man who had been beaten, stripped naked. his clothes and left it by the roadside.

“Let's show these Marines… America supports it.” he said on Twitter on Friday.

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, called Mr. Penny “Subway Superman.”

Other far-right commentators have also endorsed Penny, incl Charlie Kirkwho runs Turning Point USA, a conservative student group, and Jenna Ellisan attorney for former President Donald J. Trump.

The surge of support from the right is in stark contrast to the reaction on the left following the May 1 killing of Mr Neely, 30. The protesters called for Penny's arrest. Political figures include Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, said Alvin L. Bragg, Manhattan district attorney, should have billed Mr Penny immediately.

Republican support for Mr Penny, 24, who grew up on Long Island and his most recent New York voter registration, from 2016, lists his party affiliation as Conservative, following a pattern of responses to past incidents, according to political analysts.

Conservative commentators have also hailed as hero Kyle Rittenhouse, an 18-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, who shot three men, two of whom died, during a demonstration in Kenosha, Wis., in 2020. Trump met with him after he was released from murder charge and summoned him “a fine young man.”

Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, said he plans to pardon Daniel Perry, an Army sergeant who was sentenced to 25 years in prison earlier this month for shooting dead a gunman during a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin.

Like these men, Mr Penny has become a symbol of the “macho” and “tough tough, take action, hang on” ethos that appeals to the conservative segment of the country, said Douglas Muzzio, a political science professor at Baruch College.

Noting that many facts about the chokehold case remain unclear, including what happened before Mr Penny arrested Mr Neely, Mr Muzzio said, “It doesn't matter what he did or what he felt or what he believed.”

The charges against Mr Penny “occurred in an atmosphere of extreme polarization and racial polarization,” said Mr Muzzio. “It's a symptom of our time — the divide between red and blue, the divide between Black and white — and it resonates with some of America's deep political realities.”

Moments before he posted his support for Mr. Penny on Twitter Mr. DeSantis, during a visit to Peoria, Ill., shot Mr. Bragg – voicing his disdain for prosecutors being backed by “people like George Soros,” referring to billionaire liberals and Democratic donors who are frequent targets of far-right attacks, some of which use veiled antisemitic tropes.

Jumaane Williams, a New York public advocate, said Mr DeSantis' criticism follows a far-right playbook for appealing to political support by spreading fear “despite what the facts say.”

“If violence can be attributed to black people or people who have melanated skin, they will be even more violent,” he said.

Mr Penny's praise was “depressing,” said Gabriel Murphy, an engineer who served in the Marines from 2006 to 2010. and which immediately after the death of Mr. Neely started a petition seeking charges against Mr. Pennysaid he had abused the chokehold.

He said people had images of the military in their minds. “They espouse that mental picture – that every Marine is a bloodthirsty killer waiting to do the right violence,” said Mr. Murphy in an interview.

But Marines are trained to use a chokehold on enemy combatants and stop using such power once their enemy loses consciousness, he said. The four-minute video recording the chokehold shows Mr Penny holding on tightly to Mr Neely 50 seconds after he went limp.

“I don't think what he did was okay, and I don't think it's in line with anything the Marine Corps teaches,” said Mr. Murphy.

Funds for Mr Penny's legal fees were arranged by his lawyers, including Thomas Kenniff, who is running as a Republican against Mr Bragg in 2021. Mr Penny's lawyers were not immediately available for comment Sunday.

An anonymous donor gave $10,000 with a note that said, “thank you for protecting people that day.”

As of Sunday, funds set up by Mr Neely's family to help pay for funeral expenses had raised a little over $102,000.

Nicholas Nehamas reporting contribution.