Homeless Lesbian Shot And Killed By NYPD. Fair Or Foul?

Yvonne McNeal, a 57-year-old homeless lesbian, was shot and killed on Sunday after she refused to drop a pair of knives she was holding outside the New Providence Residence, a shelter for women women with mental illness or addictions.

Officers say they ordered McNeal, who was involved in an altercation outside the shelter, to drop the knives—when she refused, they shot her multiple times.

The nonprofit group Queers for Economic Justice, which led a march on Wall Street in honor of McNeal Thursday night, claims the use of lethal force was unnecessary.

“Yvonne’s killing underscores the reality that the police cannot be relied on to respond compassionately to low-income LGBTQ people when it concerns issues of safety in our communities,” said a spokesperson. “It cannot be accepted that calling the police can be deadly for low-income LGBTQ New Yorkers.”

Its unclear how much of an imminent threat McNeal, who allegedly walked with a cane, presented or whether nonlethal alternatives were available.  The NYPD says its investigation is ongoing.




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  • a

    Disgusting. In all likelihood, this woman was suffering from psychosis. There are hundreds of thousands of people suffering through this hell and living on the streets of the USA, and indeed the world. It is time to end the stigma of mental illness; our lives are worth no less because we’re gay or black or schizophrenic. I hope justice is found for Yvonne. Ashe.

  • RJ

    I agree that lethal force was not entirely necessary but I don’t think this is really a LGBTQ issue. Her death had more to do with the fact that she was armed then the fact she was a lesbian.

  • Jonathonz

    Great. Vigilante cops felt justified in EXECUTING a homeless 57 year old that walked with a cane because she was brandishing a couple knives. What, a taser wasn’t handy?

  • Opheliac

    As an autistic lesbian with depression, i think this has more to do with ableism than homophobia. It’s absolutely disgusting that they fucking murdered McNeal; she was homeless, mentally ill, and she sure as hell wasn’t gonna murder anyone, unlike the NYPD.

  • Carl

    See, this is what happens when guns are as big a part of a culture as cheeseburgers – shoot first, don’t bother asking any questions. The US reliance on firearms to solve any issue is deeply worrying. This woman’s murder should be a wake-up call to the fact that there are other solutions to problems, not just a lead bullet.

  • pumpkin

    @RJ: So RJ I see you point about how her death may not entirely be related to being a lesbian, but maybe a larger issue that this article brings up are our many LGBTQ homeless brothers and sisters across the US and world where very similar stories happen but are so often left unheard.

    *may peace and a more understanding world be blessed upon the many homeless and mentally ill GLBTQ persons living today*** and may their stories have a light shined on them so we can work towards peace and more understanding world

  • a

    How fitting that this is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Perhaps we should all examine the stigma in our hearts and our world.

  • ousslander

    They should have waited until she stabbed them or someelse. They should have known with their psychic powers that she was a harmless lesbian and would never hurt a fly.

  • a


    Clearly the police were in such imminent danger with their high powered firearms from the old lady with a cane and a knife. Clearly.

  • Riker

    She was holding a pair of knives and involved in an altercation – i.e. a knife fight.

    She refused to put them down when ordered to by police. I’ll bet anything that she turned towards police and moved towards the still holding the weapons, or alternatively made an attempt to stab someone else.

    If she can fight with knives in both hands, she must not be entirely dependent on the cane, so could be seen as a legitimate threat.

    This isn’t the LAPD or some rural redneck town; New York City’s boys in blue have a reputation for upholding the law fairly and serving their citizens with distinction.

  • a


    No. The “boys in blue” actually aren’t, and have a long history of anti-LGBT, anti-homeless discrimination.

  • ~PR~

    @Riker: actually, this altercation you mention was allegedly over the phone! So, who was she going to stab? Her reciever? That said, I also do not fully see how this is an LGBT issue but I do see it as an able-bodied vs. disabled-body issue.

  • MattGMD

    A 57 yr old mentally ill woman holding a couple of what looked like antique knives. The knives shown on a NYC news site appeared to each have a four to six inch blade, however, they weren’t basic kitchen or utility knives. But do the cops not have the patience to talk her into putting them down? It seems they made contact with her, ordered her to put the knives down and when she didn’t drop the knives immediately they shot her. Granted someone with knives could certainly be a threat, but the Tasers were made for just this type of situation. If she was threatening the cops, then they certainly would not have left that info out of the news. While it is doubtful the cops were in imminent danger, they will likely be cleared in the shooting. They don’t have any problem going hands-on to take petite female protesters or reporters to the ground, so between two or more cops at the time and the Tasers, instead they chose to shoot her.

  • MattGMD

    @Riker: Respecting cops is sufficient; no need to deify them.

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