People defending the way two white Galveston police officers handled the recent arrest of a homeless, mentally ill black man have at least one point. The officers weren’t necessarily motivated by some deep racial animus.

Several things could reasonably explain why they chose to tether Donald Neely and lead him behind two horses along a downtown street.

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206;

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(11) comments

Carlos Ponce

"we doubt the officers were motivated by racial animosity." Thank you Michael A. Smith since there is NO evidence of racial motivation. GPD does not have two sets of rules, one for "people of color" and one for whites taken into custody. Some readers have erroneously posted GPD would not treat a white prisoner in a like manner when recent history shows they have. Treating everyone the same is not racist.

Emile Pope

What is considered evidence?

Carlos Ponce

Evidence is defined as an outward sign : indication, something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter.

In this case evidence of racism would be treating Donald Neely different than a "non-person of color" - no evidence of that since white men were treated in the same exact manner. Evidence of racism could also be the use of racial epithets. No indication of that here.

Gary Scoggin

Emile, interesting comment. What would you consider evidence? Does the fact that Neely was black and the officers were white constitute a reason to assume racism, even though there are no other corroborating facts that we are aware of? That seems to be your underlying point here.

Rodney Dunklee

It was either channel 2 or 26 that interviewed a white man on camera who was lead tethered by a black officer in Galveston. It is good the practice is being stopped, but it really does appear to be a consistent practice rather than biased treatment for people of color.

Carlos Ponce

It was Channel 2:

"Galveston residents say they were led by mounted officers with rope during their arrests"

"GALVESTON, Texas - Two mounted Galveston police officers handcuffed two white men and escorted them using a blue leash, or rope, just like Donald Neely, the men told KPRC 2 on Wednesday."

Robert Braeking

Isn't it interesting that the most racist among us is the first to allege racism? Could that be projection? Projecting one's own attitudes on others? It seems like a tactic that is used to inject emotion into an innocuous situation.

Wayne Holt

Thank you, Michael. You have encapsulated the issues around this incident clearly and written in a balanced and thoughtful way. This is why I say over and over we have to focus on our common humanity. The more we get lost in the weeds over what might or might not be perceived/attributed to issues of race and history, the further we move away from what is the common humanity of officers, suspect, of the mentally ill and the well, of white and black and Hispanic and Asian, of rich and poor.

Your words should be carefully considered by those who are pushing this past the point of logic and responsible civic discourse. To find racism where there is no evidence at this point just fans the flames for those who truly are looking to create a further racial divide, something no American should want.

Raymond Lewis

Good piece Michael.

Granted, the act of the police officers most likely had no racial intent. However, the act did have racial implications as we all have seen.

My concern is that we as a community and our police department are having difficulty focusing on the limitations these young officers had in using their real time better judgment thereby avoiding this (as you aptly describe) "walking off an unanticipated political cliff" and creating a visual that is difficult to un-see. It appears no one had the 'judgement" talk with them and no one seems to be having it now so that it doesn't happen again. With proper guidance these officers could have long careers ahead of them. This event should not define them.

We all have witnessed (or experienced) how following 'protocol' to the letter without applying sound judgment can take any of us off a proverbial political cliff.

Dan Freeman

[thumbup] However, there is reason to suspect aversive racism in any interaction between police and minority people.

Jose' Boix

I wonder if there were failings of family, community and medical/social services all of which significantly affected this case. Just consider these 5 points regarding Mr. Donald Neely:

1. He has a family residing on the mainland (one reference states Texas City) and he has lived in Galveston for five years.

2. He has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been living on the streets

3. He has a record of misdemeanor and felony infractions dating to 1994 (25 years), was freed on bond after his arrest and is back living on the streets of Galveston,

4. His younger brother Andy Neely said two weeks ago, he tried unsuccessfully to get him to come home.

5. His family is trying to find a facility to give the care he needs. However, they found legal counsel quickly.

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