A legal aid fund in support of the man charged with the chokehold death of a homeless man in New York has raised more than $1.6 million. By noon Sunday, more than 36,000 people had responded to the fundraising appeal of the law firm Raiser & Kenniff, which represents former U.S. Marine soldier Daniel Penny.

The death of 30-year-old Jordan Neely, who had earned money in the past as a Michael Jackson impersonator, had triggered outrage in early May. According to witnesses, the African-American had started yelling at passengers in a subway. However, he is not said to have physically attacked anyone. Passenger Penny overpowered Neely and, lying on the ground, put him in a chokehold for minutes.

Neely lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The forensic medicine classified the case as death through the fault of others, the cause of death was therefore a squeezing of the neck.

The 24-year-old Penny was charged on Friday with so-called manslaughter of the second degree and released on bail.

The legal aid fund was set up by Penny's lawyers on the website GiveSendGo, which bills itself as "The No. 1 Christian fundraiser site." The site is known for allowing fundraising by groups from the anti-Semitic and racist spectrum that have been banned from other crowdfunding sites.

Penny also received support from Ron DeSantis, conservative governor of the US state of Florida, who is expected to run for the Republican Party's candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. In online services, DeSantis called for stopping the "pro-crime agenda of the left" and "reclaiming the streets for law-abiding citizens."

According to media reports, Neely had been repeatedly arrested in the past. According to the report, he suffered from mental health problems after his mother was murdered. Neely was a teenager at the time.

His death on May 1 touches on two topics that repeatedly make headlines in New York: mental health problems among the city's many homeless people and safety in the subway.