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'This is 2019, Not 1819': Outrage after US Cops on Horses Lead Afro-American with 'Rope'

Thousands of netizens said the photo was reminiscent of the treatment meted out by whites to black people before the abolishment of slavery in America.

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Updated:August 8, 2019, 2:11 PM IST
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'This is 2019, Not 1819': Outrage after US Cops on Horses Lead Afro-American with 'Rope'
(Twitter/ @AdrBell)

A handcuffed black man was led by horse-mounted cops with what appeared to be a rope in United States, sparking outrage against the police which apologised for the "unnecessary embarrassment” caused to the victim and “poor judgement” displayed by the officers.

43-year-old Donald Neely, whose family says he has been homeless for seven years and suffers from mental disorders , was arrested on Saturday for “criminal trespassing” in a commercial neighbourhood after ignoring several warnings, the Galveston Police Department in Texas said in a statement, after a photo of the incident was captured by an onlooker and went viral on social media.

Thousands of netizens said the photo was reminiscent of the treatment meted out by whites to black people before the abolishment of slavery in America. Several others said the incident had merely highlighted the daily casual discrimination against the black community.

The police department said a transportation unit was not immediately available at the time of the arrest and the man was handcuffed and escorted beside two police officers on horses.

“While this technique of using mounted horses to transport a person during an arrest is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not the correct use for this instance,” the Galveston Police Department said in a Facebook post.

Police, however, said the officer was holding a "line" that was clipped to the man's handcuffs, and not a rope.

The officers showed "poor judgment" and "could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest," Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III said.

The police said it understood “the negative perception of this action” and its chief had taken immediate action to “suspend this technique of transportation during arrests.” CNN reported that Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump criticized the police department.

"When they drag Donald Neely down the road by horses and rope, it was like they (were) dragging our entire community down the road," Crump was quoted as saying at a press conference.

"This is not 1819. This is 2019. And that image projected back to 1819, as if those were the fugitive slave hunters, and that Donald Neely was a slave being ... with horse and rope brought down the street," Crump said.

Neely family attorney, Melissa Morris, echoed similar views.

"This is the behavior in 2019 that we have to deal with. Unfortunately, these police officers lacked the judgment, and the fitness to decide that this imagery that comes from the way that they handled Mr. Neely is painful, and that it just ... just dredges up all of these painful memories of the past."

Neely’s family said they were looking for him while he was in jail for 20 hours .

Morris claimed that police knew Neely suffered from a mental illness.

"He was treated like an animal paraded through the streets," Christin Neely, Neely's sister-in-law, wrote in a Facebook post.

Morris said Donald Neely was known to police from previous encounters while living on the streets.

"I believe they picked him up there because they knew who he was and where he was known to be," she told CNN. "I believe the choice of the transport method was to set the tone for the interrogation.”

“They should have never did what they did, put a black man in between two horsemen that are white,” The New York Times quoted the man's sister Taranette Neely as saying.

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