A Photo of a black man under arrest in Galveston TX sparked an uproar on line and drew an apology from the city’s police chief.
The man, arrested on a misdemeanor trespassing charge, is seen handcuffed behind his back and being led through the streets on a rope or tether by two white officers on horseback.
In a statement Monday, Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale apologized to the man, Donald Neely, 43, for “this unnecessary embarrassment,” saying the officers “showed poor judgement” in not waiting for transport.
“The image stirred a visceral reaction on social media, even receiving attention from Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman,” reported the Houston Chronicle.
“A black man, dragged with a rope by police officers on horses, in 2019,” O’Rourke tweeted. “This moment demands accountability, justice, and honestly—because we need to call this out for what it is: racism at work.”
In his statement Hale said the department’s policy has been changed so that the previously approved technique for handling prisoners would not be used again.
That wasn’t enough for civil rights groups.
“The photo of Galveston police officers leading an African American man down the street with a rope attached to his handcuffs is disturbing and offensive,” said Gail Glasser, interim director of the Anti-Defamation League’s southwest division, adding that while Hale apologized, “the department’s actions have fallen short.”
Some critics called for the officers to be disciplined.
Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, called “the optics of the photo … shocking,” according to the Chronicle.
“All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that doesn’t make sense, period,” Phillips said. “And I do understand this — if it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.”
According to KPRC-TV, Nealy is bipolar and homeless.