Daniel Penny Claims He Can’t Be Racist Because He Planned a Trip to Africa

“I love all cultures.”

AP/ Jeenah Moon

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In his first interview since being charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Jordan Neely, Daniel Penny said that he couldn’t be “a white supremacist” because he was, among other things, “planning a road trip through Africa.” In an interview with the New York Post, the ex-Marine said that allegations against him of racism are “a little bit comical.” 

“Everybody who’s ever met me can tell you, I love all people, I love all cultures. You can tell by my past and all my travels and adventures around the world,” said Penny. “I was actually planning a road trip through Africa before this happened.” 

Neely’s family said the interview amounted to nothing more than a pro-Penny press release

“We don’t care how many vacations he’s been on,” said Donte Mills, an attorney representing the Neely family, to NBC News. “We want to know why he didn’t let go of that chokehold until Jordan was dead.”

On May 1, Penny, who is white, put Neely—a Black unhoused man who was allegedly ranting at passengers on the F-train—in a deadly chokehold. Neely reportedly had a long history of mental health struggles that were exacerbated after his mother’s murder in 2007. On May 12, Penny was formally charged with second-degree manslaughter. 

While Penny might claim not to be a white supremacist or a “vigilante,” the far right is enamored with him. Since the reveal of his identity, many right-wing trolls alongside your more run-of-the-mill conservatives, have propped up Penny as a “hero.” In the political sphere, high-profile Republicans, like Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz, have openly supported Penny, both vocally and financially. As my colleague Noah Lanard previously reported Penny’s supporters have raised over $2 million dollars in donations via the Christian crowdfunding website, GiveSendGo. 

Arguing that you’re not racist because you were planning a road trip to Africa is silly. Anyone who’s ever cracked open a history book would know that racists have long journeyed to the continent—just look at any of the countless British colonies in African nations or the bloody legacy of the transatlantic slave trade.

If Penny was looking for sympathy, that explanation is not helping.

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