Galveston Police arrest black man, reminiscent of 1819, not 2019

by | Aug 7, 2019 | Criminal Justice

A disturbing viral photo showing two mounted Galveston Police leading a handcuffed African-American man tied to a rope is causing outrage in Texas and beyond.

The photo shows 43-year-old Donald Neely being arrested on criminal trespassing charges on Saturday and being led to area several blocks away with more mounted police are stationed. 

Critics of the cruel arrest say it harkens back to some of the worst, racist moments of American history.

“When I looked at the picture, I saw utter disrespect for another human being. The first thing that came to my mind was this is 2019 and not 1819,” Houston NAACP president James Douglas told CBS.

Adrienne Bell, a Democrat running for a congressional seat in Texas’ 14th District wrote on Facebook that “swift action is needed to ensure that no one is demeaned in this manner again.”

In a statement, Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III apologized to Neely for the behavior of the officers.

“First and foremost, I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” he wrote. “Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of arrest.”

In their apology, Galveston Police said they would no longer use the practice from now on– but critics are demanding more accountability, including calls for the officers to be fired or suspended. As of yet, no disciplinary action has been taken by Galveston Police.

Gail Glasser, the ADL’s interim southwest regional director, described the photo to the Houston Chronicle as disturbing and offensive. “Although Police Chief Vernon Hale III has apologized, the department’s actions have fallen short,” he said. | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

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