GALVESTON, Texas - Hundreds of people marched through the streets of Galveston on Sunday, demanding justice for Donald Neely. Last month, Neely was arrested by two Galveston Police officers on horseback and escorted through several blocks tied to a rope. His controversial arrest sparked outrage amongst civil rights activists across the country.
Attorney Ben Crump and Bishop James Dixon, vice president of NAACP Houston, lead the crowd to chant for justice. During the rally, Crump demanded that Galveston PD release the body cam video of Neely’s arrest.
Crump said law enforcement’s response that the two officers were good people with good character should be backed up by video evidence.
Protestors at the rally chanted “don’t say no more, just show the video” as they marched through the same area where Neely—a mentally ill and homeless African American man-- was arrested in August for misdemeanor trespassing.
Neely has apparently been arrested multiple times before that incident.
The disturbing image captured by bystanders went viral. Many criticized the officers saying their decision to lead a handcuffed Neely by rope was embarrassing and uncalled for.
“It automatically brings you back to slavery and the way you were treated during that time-- the way black people were treated during that time,” said Willie Patterson.
“My boys have autism and they may not respond to police. We support law enforcement 100 percent. And I'm pretty sure those two law enforcement officers are very good people and model citizens because they wear that badge. But that was bad judgement,” said Francine Robinson.
Neely’s attorney, Melissa Morris, said officers did not have to mistreat him to arrest him. She said the dynamic of the situation could’ve been different if one of the officers got off the horse and walked with Neely.
“What if one of those officers said, ‘This is the way I have to transport you. But to show you that I’m not disrespecting you, that I wouldn't treat you any worse than I would want to be treated, I’m going to walk with you,’” Morris said.
Roughly 40 officers were deployed to keep protestors safe and protected. The city of Galveston said body cam footage will eventually be released.
“I’ve given my word that the minute the investigation is wrapped up, and we can legally release the video, we will do it almost immediately. We're not trying to hide anything, but we do want to make sure that the investigations are complete and that benefits not only Mr. Neely, but also the police officers as well. And we need to make sure we do this right,” said Brian Maxwell, city manager of Galveston.
The Galveston Police Department released a statement in response to the incident.