A picture of two horse-mounted officers using a rope to lead a handcuffed black man through the streets of Galveston, Texas, has been slammed as racist and evoking memories of slavery. Police issued an apology.
Police Chief Vernon Hale confirmed that the officers clipped a “line” to Donald Neely’s handcuffs after he was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal trespassing on Saturday. They were leading the suspect to a mounted patrol unit staging area.
The image ignited outrage online after it went viral, with many drawing comparisons to racist images and the era of slavery in the US. “Looks like they’re going to a slave auction,” one Twitter user said.
“This is 2019 and not 1819,” James Douglas, president of Houston’s NAACP chapter told the Houston Chronicle.
“First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale said in a statement. “Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest.”
Police said the department has changed its policy to prevent it from happening again.
It said the officers, identified as P. Brosch and A. Smith, did not have malicious intent.
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“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,” Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice said. Phillips suggested that the officers could have stayed with the man and waited for a car, and called on the police to end the arrest technique.