Image on the left shows two Texas police on horses escorting a Black man in handcuffs and a leash on the street; the photo on the right shows them from the back, and a red leash attached to the man's hand from the back

Adrienne Bell/Twitter

Police on horses lead Black man on leash through streets

The photos sparked outrage on social media.


Samira Sadeque


Posted on Aug 6, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 7:11 am CDT

Outrage sparked across social media on Monday after photos surfaced showing a Black man is being escorted by a leash tied to his hand by police in Galveston, Texas. 

Texas Congressional candidate Adrienne Bell shared photos of the incident on Facebook and said that Galveston officials confirmed they were real.

“It is hard to understand why these officers felt this young man required a leash, as he was handcuffed and walking between two mounted officers,” she wrote. “It is a scene that has invoked anger, disgust, and questions from the community.”

Galveston police have since identified the man as 43-year-old Donald Neely, who was arrested on Saturday for trespassing.  

In a statement to the Daily Dot, the police denied Neely was on a leash and said that he was “handcuffed, and a line was clipped to the handcuffs.”

Bell also shared the photos on Twitter, where people reacted with horror.

Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III apologized for the incident later on Monday.

“First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment,” Hale said in an email statement to the Daily Dot. “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 arrest.”

For many, the photo was disturbing not only for the treatment and humiliation of Neely but also how it evoked images of slavery.

“Slave patrol all over again,” one user commented on Bell’s photo on Facebook. 

“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’s doesn’t make sense, period,” Leon Phillips, president of the racial justice organization Galveston Coalition for Justice, told the Chronicle

Phillips said the photos reminded him of racist images from the 1920s.

Some on social media also said the victim is mentally ill and homeless, but the claims were not independently verifiable. Galveston police did not respond to the Daily Dot’s question about this but said the officers in the situation were familiar with Neely who had previous warnings to not trespass the property.

Police also confirmed the officers wore bodycams when Neely was detained.


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*First Published: Aug 6, 2019, 10:42 am CDT