Reverend Al Sharpton delivered a powerful eulogy on Friday (May 19) at the funeral of Jordan Neely, a 30-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator who was choked to death on a New York City subway, ABC7 reports.
Neely, 30, died earlier this month after 24-year-old Daniel Penny, a former Marine, put him in a chokehold for allegedly threatening passengers on the subway. However, activists and the family of Neely, who was homeless, have pointed out that the Michael Jackson impersonator had a history of mental health issues and wasn’t violent or threatening anyone in particular when he was choked to death.
Neely’s funeral was held at Mount Neboh Baptist Church, where Sharpton made remarks condemning vigilantism and calling for better mental health services.
“We shouldn’t not celebrate Jordan’s life, but we should not forget how he died. We’re not here because of natural causes,” Sharpton said. “A good Samaritan helps those in trouble, they don’t choke them out.”
“He was a homeless man but he was a human being,” he continued. “You know, I mean, I feel that you know, I mean you don’t you don’t deserve that. No, nobody deserves to die like that.”
“Jordan was not annoying anyone on the train. Jordan was screaming for help,” Sharpton added. “We keep criminalizing people with mental illness. They don’t need abuse, they need help.”
Sharpton stressed the need for change in the wake of Neely’s death.
“In your name, we’re gonna change how they deal with the homeless. In your name, we’re gonna change city services. Jordan, you didn’t die for nothing,” he said.