A photo of two horse-mounted Texas police officers escorting a handcuffed black man through the streets in the city of Galveston has been causing quite a stir on social media since it was released last weekend.
The Texas police chief has now apologized for the photo, which shows the detained man handcuffed and being led by a rope held by one of the officers.
The man was reportedly taken back to the Mounted Patrol Unit’s staging area.
A Galveston Police Department press release posted to Facebook revealed that the man was being arrested for criminal trespassing. He was reportedly trespassing in an area he had been warned to avoid in the past.
“A transportation unit was not immediately available at the time of the arrest and a man was handcuffed and escorted beside two police officers on horses,” read the press release.
Chief Vernon L. Hale, III defended the police officers by saying that they were using a “trained technique.” However, he did argue that the officers used “poor judgement” and should have waited for a transportation unit.
“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 the arrest. My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods,” he said in the press release.
He went on to say that “we understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique.”
The press release follows many expressing shock on social media over the picture.
“This is just sickening and uncalled for. This young black man was put on a leash while handcuffed between two mounted horses in Galveston, Texas. This invokes painful imagery of slave catchers and runaway enslaved Africans,” one Twitter user wrote when sharing the photo.
This is just sickening and uncalled for.
This young black man was put on a leash while handcuffed between two mounted horses in Galveston, Texas.
This invokes painful imagery of slave catchers and runaway enslaved Africans. pic.twitter.com/ZHEmyCYbUE
— zellie (@zellieimani) August 6, 2019
“This is sickening!” responded another.
OMG! This is sickening!
“Galveston police are apologizing after a dramatic photo circulated online showing horse-mounted officers leading a handcuffed man of color by what appears to be a rope.”https://t.co/lK2bhlApda
— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy_Siskind) August 6, 2019
Texas congressman Al Green also reacted to the photo. He even tried to drag President Donald Trump into the controversy. He tweeted, “Horse-mounted policemen shamelessly parading a Black man handcuffed & hitched to their horse by rope down the streets of #Galveston is bad policy & bad policing. Mr. President, is this what you meant on 7/28/2017 when you told police ‘don’t be too nice’ when arresting people?”
Horse-mounted policemen shamelessly parading a Black man handcuffed & hitched to their horse by rope down the streets of #Galveston is bad policy & bad policing. Mr. President, is this what you meant on 7/28/2017 when you told police "don't be too nice" when arresting people?
— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) August 6, 2019
“He’s mentally ill and homeless. Arrested for TRESPASSING!!! They cuffed him and brought him down the streets ON A LEASH!!!!!!! Mounted police protocol is to call for a squad car!!!!!!” another user wrote.
And another responded, “Tell me again how racism is dead and that we black folk just overreact to everything? Don’t worry I’ll wait.”
— Phenomenally -Openly- Black ✊🏾 (she/her) (@luvwinsresist) August 6, 2019
Check out more reactions below:
— edgar (@edgarsalinas77) August 6, 2019
What the crap!! Degrade & embarrass this man. Uncalled for and to top it off apologize for what should have NEVER happened to begin with. This is one reason people are videoing everything regarding police. Come on use your brains people!!! #Galveston
— angrae (@raeolight) August 6, 2019
@AdrBell posted this photo on her campaign Facebook page today. She said the #Galveston #Texas police verified that it is authentic. Now the question is why in 2019 would police mounted on horses think it is okay to parade a Black man in handcuffs on the street with a leash? pic.twitter.com/RX1zGNi5YX
— Clarene Mitchell (@MrsCMitch) August 5, 2019
While it’s admittedly an unflattering picture, these officers are technically doing their jobs with the resources available to them. If this were a white man, would there be such outrage?
With that being said, it’s good the police chief has responded to the criticisms and acknowledged that the technique is probably easier to just not use. His response should absolutely end any and all criticism being thrown at these officers, who were in the midst of arresting a man for violating the law.
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