DeSantis defends fundraising for the ex-Marine who fatally choked Jordan Neely in subway: 'Vets look out for other vets'
DeSantis shared a fundraising page for Penny over the weekend, raising $2 million for his defense.
"Vets look out for other vets," DeSantis said when asked about it Tuesday.
DeSantis has been among the Republicans attacking Democrats over rising crime.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida defended ex-Marine Daniel Penny as having done the "right thing" after he fatally choked Jordan Neely on a New York City Subway.
Penny, a 24-year-old white man, has been charged with second degree manslaughter after the death of Neely, a 30-year-old Michael Jackson impersonator and dancer who was Black. Penny faces up to 15 years in prison and DeSantis said Tuesday that he shouldn't be prosecuted.
"Vets look out for other vets," DeSantis said during a press conference in Lighthouse Point, Florida, referring to his own service in the US Navy. "What we can't have in our society is inmates running the asylum."
DeSantis shared a fundraising page for Penny in a tweet over the weekend, urging supporters to "stop the Left's pro-criminal agenda and take back the streets for law abiding citizens." The campaign, which will go toward Penny's defense, raised more than $2 million as of mid-day Tuesday.
Neely, who was homeless, faced mental health struggles after his mother was murdered in 2007, but didn't receive effective treatment and faced dozens of arrests.
Penny's lawyers said that Neely was "aggressively threatening" passengers. Witnesses reported that before Penny place in him a chokehold Neely screamed that he was hungry and tired and hadn't physically attacked anyone.
Protests ensued in New York City, and the story became national news as it touched on race, homelessness, crime, and mental health treatment.
Over the weekend and on Tuesday, DeSantis praised Penny as a "Good Samaritan" for "protecting people." The comparison, however, didn't match the famous story in the Bible, of a Samaritan man who helps a Jewish man who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the side of the road. Jesus used the parable to teach the disciples what it meant to love one's neighbor, commanding them to show mercy even to people they despise.
Several Republicans in Congress have similarly cast Penny as a hero and used the case to argue that crime in major US cities is out of control. Crime in New York City is higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, statistics show.
DeSantis and other Republicans also attacked Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg — the same attorney who indicted former President Donald Trump for falsification of business records in March — and highlighted his support from Democratic billionaire George Soros. The support was indirect, as Soros didn't donate to Bragg's campaign directly but to a progressive super PAC, Color of Change, that advocates for criminal justice reform and backed Bragg.
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