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Former NYC First Lady Told Residents To ‘Physically Intervene’ To Stop Street Harassment

  Two years ago, the wife of New York City’s then-mayor told residents to stand up for fellow residents to stop street harassment, including...

 Two years ago, the wife of New York City’s then-mayor told residents to stand up for fellow residents to stop street harassment, including by “physically intervening” – an act for which Marine Daniel Penny was taken into custody for on Friday.

In March 2021, during the height of the “Defund the Police” movement and concern about racist attacks against Asians, Chirlane McCray — the wife of then-mayor Bill de Blasio and co-chair of New York City’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity — wrote that people should take things into their own hands.

“As attacks on Asian American communities continue, we’re asking New Yorkers to show up for their neighbors and intervene when witnessing hateful violence or harassment. I know that can be frightening when you aren’t sure what to do or say, but you can learn,” she said on Twitter.

NYPD statistics for 2020, the most recent available when McCray issued her call to stop people who were harassing Asians, show that most people arrested for such hate crimes were black, The Daily Wire reported.

She shared five tactics for “interrupting” the harassment, including “Direct: Respond directly to the aggressor or physically intervene and only after assessing the situation. Be confident, assertive, calm.”

Her remarks were even shared in the military publication American Military News, where Penny might have seen them.

But when Penny intervened after a violent criminal named Jordan Neely was harassing people on a subway train, according to witnesses, he was charged with second-degree manslaughter by New York’s district attorney, Alvin Bragg. Penny had put Neely in a chokehold to restrain him, then put him in the “recovery position” after the threat was neutralized, video showed, but Neely died.

McCray was sharing techniques from a nonprofit called Right To Be, previously called Hollaback, that is dedicated to stopping street harassment. The group calls the advice the “5 Ds.” The group runs trainings on “bystander intervention” and “stand[ing] up against street harassment,” including at schools and for teacher certification.

Right To Be’s says in 2022 it joined with the NYC Commission on Gender Equity and the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence “leveraging Right To Be’s 5Ds methodology.” More recent materials seem to have dropped “physically intervening” from the fifth D.

Despite its mission positing street harassment as an important issue, the nonprofit appeared to characterize Neely in sympathetic terms. “Jordan Neely’s violent death while experiencing a mental health crisis and pleading for help is a direct result of our failure, as a city and as a community, to invest in the public health infrastructure and support that could have spared his life,” it retweeted May 8.

Neely regularly harassed people on the subway and streets and was previously arrested for attacking an elderly woman.

Right To Be, which received a grant in 2017 from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, is focused heavily on racial identity. It says it is preserving the “Right to be” “Black,” “Latinx,” “LGBTQIA+,” “Asian,” “Muslim,” and “more,” but it does not explicitly include white or Marine, like Penny.

Right To Be did not return a request for comment from The Daily Wire on its view on the Penny-Neely incident as specialists in intervention and opposition to street harassment. Its president is Emily May, who goes by the pronouns she/they and is a member of the mayor’s appointed Street Harassment Prevention Advisory Board.

On April 17, Right To Be retweeted a post about how horrible street harassment is: “Street Harassment is a continuous form of silencing victims. It creates a cycle of abuse, where everyday people are taught to walk fast and ignore comments, instead of fighting to be free to walk anywhere!”

But that opposition to antisocial behavior appeared conditional on the race of the culprit. That same day, it retweeted the dubious claim that black children often face gun violence at the hands of “white supremacists.”

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