In the News
May 3, 2023
For advocates working on issues of poverty and police abuses, there was a simple reason why Neely’s killing happened the way it did and why, in the aftermath, nothing seemed out of the ordinary when the killer was set free: fearmongering rhetoric about homelessness and crime from Democratic New York leaders Gov. Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.
“Of course you’re gonna have individuals deputizing themselves, thinking that this is the response,” said Adolfo Abreu, housing campaigns director for Voices of Community Activists and Leaders New York, or VOCAL-NY, a grassroots member-led organization that advocates for justice in housing, policing, and public health for poor and low-income people. “Because our leaders are saying, ‘Hey, there’s so much rampant violence, and homeless folks are a nuisance’ — and having armed police be the first interaction is the appropriate response.”
The New York Police Department’s response to Neely’s killing sends a dangerous message that anyone can take vigilante justice into their own hands without consequences, Abreu said.