New Yorkers hopped on subway tracks to protest the demise of Jordan Neely, mirroring a 1987 photograph of individuals doing the identical factor for a Black man who died after a racist assault

  • In 1987 Ricky Flores captured protesters in a subway tunnel after the demise of an unarmed Black man.
  • On Saturday, folks did the identical for Jordan Neely, a Black man who was killed on a subway automotive.
  • Flores was shocked to see the brand new photos, which he mentioned have many parallels to his photograph.

Image this: it is December 21, 1987, and crowds of protesters have gathered within the New York Metropolis subway to protest the unjust demise of a 23-year-old Black man named Michael Griffith, who died in Howard Seaside, Queens, after a gaggle of white males violently beat him and his buddies.

In a extremely uncommon transfer, the group climbs down into the Jay Road/Borough Corridor station tracks to disrupt operations. The second is memorialized in {a photograph}. 

Over 35 years later, the same second occurred: On Saturday, protesters in New York Metropolis hopped on a subway observe, chanting “no justice, no peace” to protest the demise of Jordan Neely, who was choked by a 24-year-old Marine vet named Daniel Penny on Monday.

Ricky Flores, who captured the historic 1987 photograph, advised Insider that when a fellow photojournalist confirmed him the images of Saturday’s protest, it felt like historical past was coming “full circle.”

“There was a way of these two occasions crashing collectively,” Flores advised Insider. 

Protesters entered the tracks round 6 p.m. on the Lexington/63rd Road subway station. The motion resulted in practice operations being halted for practically an hour. 


“Leaping on tracks is harmful, reckless and could be life-threatening,” NYC Transit President Richard Davey mentioned in an announcement obtained by Insider. “Whereas peaceable protest has at all times been a part of American cloth, endangering transit employees and different responders, whereas additionally delaying New Yorkers simply making an attempt to get the place they should go, by intentionally risking contact with an electrified third rail, is unacceptable.”

A spokesperson for the NYPD mentioned arrests had been made however couldn’t present any extra particulars concerning the protest motion. The New York Submit reported a minimum of seven arrests had been made, in response to regulation enforcement sources.

‘No one knew they had been gonna try this’

Flores, a longtime photojournalist who has captured many essential occasions in New York Metropolis, advised Insider he hardly ever sees folks occupying the rails themselves. Nonetheless, the subway is commonly used as a spot to protest — even again within the day. 

Across the time he took his {photograph}, Flores mentioned many individuals had been organizing to name into query police techniques used towards Black and Latino communities.

On the day of the Howard Seaside protest, led by Reverend Al Sharpton and a number of high-profile civil rights leaders, 500 folks marched the streets of Brooklyn, and 150 of them made their option to the subway tunnel, in response to a UPI article from the time. After occupying the rails, 4 subway strains needed to be shut down.

Earlier than hopping all the way down to the rails, protesters yelled, “No Peace! No Peace!” UPI reported. A police officer additionally warned protesters by a bullhorn that the facility was nonetheless operating on the tracks, to which Sharpton replied: “The facility remains to be on in our group.”

Flores advised Insider that the protesters break up into three extremely organized teams on that day. He determined to comply with the one he knew was most radical. This was the group that ended up leaping onto the tracks.

“No one knew they had been gonna try this,” Flores mentioned. “And it was clearly deliberate and effectively thought out as a result of they needed to manage their folks. It was a radical strategy to protesting we hadn’t seen earlier than.”

Quick ahead to 2023, and Flores says it is hanging that the identical sorts of conversations — on racism, policing, homelessness, and the coverage that shapes all of it — proceed to dominate nationwide politics. And that New York Metropolis is as soon as once more the epicenter of those conversations. 

He additionally mentioned, nevertheless, that in contrast to previously, he is seen a tonal shift — particularly within the media — as to how persons are viewing the demise of Neely versus how many individuals reacted to the demise of Griffith. Flores identified, for instance, that there have been extra white folks at at this time’s protest than he was used to seeing within the ’80s.

Flores mentioned he hopes protesters will see actual change this time round.

“It is only a loopy, loopy, loopy feeling to expertise that once more,” Flores mentioned. “And a whole lot of these issues we should always have been executed with. Opioids, dependancy, we should not have this downside. This downside was handled successfully again within the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s. And right here we’re again full circle once more.”

Representatives for Sharpton didn’t instantly reply to Insider’s request for remark.