I am almost at a loss for words here. The poor judgment displayed by these two Galveston police officers boggles the mind. 43 year old Donald Neely was arrested for criminal trespass. There isn’t much information on why he was arrested by mounted patrol. The Galveston Police Department press release, shown at egbertowillies.com, says Neely was being led to the area where the mounted patrol was staging. That makes it sound as if a planned round-up was going on but it doesn’t actually say.
With everything going on, with all the anger at how minorities, especially black people, are treated by police officers, how could these two officers think this was no big deal? What was going through their heads that they didn’t understand the optics of two white men on horses, wearing their cowboy hats and their badges, leading a black man on a leash?
It doesn’t matter that the press release says it wasn’t a leash, that “a line was clipped to the handcuffs.” That’s a pretty good description of a leash but if you look at the picture, you will see that “line” looks more like a heavy duty rope. Talk about bad optics. We have a shameful history in America involving how black people have been treated and that history often involved a rope.
If these officers had been on bike patrol they would have called for a unit to come pick up their arrested person. Mounted patrol should be no different. I’m glad Galveston P.D. has immediately changed the policy but it shouldn’t have taken an incident like this for that to happen. As the press release says, “this is a trained technique.” Don’t they have any people who teach diversity and racial sensitivity? Wasn’t there someone somewhere who could have said, whoa, let’s rethink this technique?
Now I have to wonder about all the other poor decisions these two officers may have made and gotten away with.