“They were using tools they were provided to perform a job they were asked to do,” said Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale at a community meeting on Aug. 6 at the Old Central Community Center.

Many years ago, Henry David Thoreau penned these words, “I wish my countrymen to consider, that whatever the human law may be, neither an individual nor a nation can ever commit the least act of injustice against the obscurest individual, without having to pay the penalty for it. A government which deliberately enacts injustice, and persists in it, will at length ever become the laughingstock of the world.”

With that said, I now write to you my fellow citizens of Galveston County. It has been said by many that the optics of the image of Donald Neely being arrested by two mounted officers and walked through the streets of Galveston looked bad. We have looked at the viral image and focused on the subjects in it, but the reality is that what we’re looking at is ourselves.

If we’re honest, we as a society created the conditions that allowed that image to become a reality. It’s not the police department’s responsibility alone. As Chief Hale stated on that night — we provided the tools and we asked them to do a job.

It’s much easier to blame Donald Neely, the officers, the police chief or elected officials than it is to examine the issue at a much deeper level that convicts each of us for allowing an environment that creates a need to employ these techniques to deal with a symptom of a disease rather than the root cause of the disease.

To blame racism as the disease is too easy. Racism is only a symptom that manifests or reveals itself because of ignorance and fear. We will not be able to eliminate the deeper problems if we only look at one symptom.

This cure will take many years of treatment. In order to cure ourselves we must acknowledge we’re sick. Yes, Donald Neely is an ill individual, but we’re a sick society that’s willing to dispose of certain individuals. We allow the dirty work to be done by others, so that we cannot be implicated in the crime.

While our individual hands may not have been involved in this arrest, our collective hands aren’t clean. We as a society gave authority to the police to use the badge, horse, cuffs and leash. We also asked them to do the dirty work of removing undesirable people from our view. Now we need to legislate new guidelines and see value in all people including criminals.

It’s time for us to have the conversations that make us uncomfortable. The conversations that lead to better solutions for our problems. It’s time to examine who we are as a community.

We thought we were looking at a picture, but what we were looking at is a mirror. A young child was used to reveal to us that while we may not want to recognize it, this is who we are.

We have an opportunity to be a better community. The world is watching, and I’m hopeful this time we will do the real work needed for meaningful change.

Sam Collins III is a local historian, and lives in Hitchcock.

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(16) comments

David Hardee

Good THOUGHT provoking conception and well written article.

Yes, our society has turned over the WORK to others. Yes, it is not racism alone that eating the humanity and benevolence out of our society. Your right, when we see an action that mistreats one of the weakest among us, we are all diminished.

The work we have turned over to others is the fundamental work of caring, nurturing and developing the child into a decent human being. Society is the others. The child has become the obligation of the others (state). We gave the state all the tools not only to do the dirty work but to also do the fundamental work normally done by the family.

The family is nonexistent in the lives of many children. And it is those many children who under the tutelage of the community (another form of state) rather than their family who reflect the failure of our society.

WHO WE ARE is who we have become over the years of promoting disintegration of the family. That big tent that has been raising our children is a failure. The “big tent” concept is the conversation we must begin with. Until society resurrects the most elemental human control over its individuals (shame) we continue on this path.

Progress of liberalism promotes total tolerance. The big tent harbors unconscionable behavior.

Shame on us!

Leonce Thierry

No one, regardless of who they are, should ever have their hands cuffed behind their back and tethered by rope to a horse. If that’s official policy in how a human is treated, then that policy should change.

Carlos Ponce

It's been changed in Galveston, Leonce.

Sherree christensen

People, please come to your senses, that man has been a trouble maker, for years.The family claims he is homeless, and mentally ill. Why, doesn't the family take him in

Bailey Jones

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Jack Cross

This is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Yes, this was stupid, but it is not racism. I was standard policy that applied to all. It looks bad so it should be discontinued and it has. You can't fire the officers it this was standard policy and good luck sueing the city. How can this incident paint the rest of us as being a sick society. A couple of people running for political office came to Galveston trying to make points over this.

Yes we are a sick society, but not because of this, Every day I see the cry about white nationalism. I don't know a white nationalist and none of my friends have ever met one. if being against open boarders, educating anyone who enters the country, paying for babies for anyone in the world who comes here is a White nationalist then count me in.

If people are quick to jump on the police and ignore the thousands of young black kids being gunned down every year, ignore the fact that about 70 percent of black kids are brought up in a single mom home that sets them on a path of school failure, gangs or drugs, call me a racist, I call myself a concerned citizens with a lifetime of treating people fairly and respectfully. When I see the data put out by the Texas Education agency that shows African American Students at the bottom of every grade level, it makes me wonder why African Americans are not putting their energy into these things that are a disaster to the black family. The reason is politics and political parties using them to keep their power by instilling the people that they are the victims of someone else. Yes we are living in a cruel world sometimes but everyone has to take charge of their own responsibility. If Mr. Collins, who I respect wants to have a conversation, then this is a good start.

Charles Douglas

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Charles Hughes

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Jonathan Frank

Our narcissistic society has blinded our eyes and hardened our hearts, until some injustice or horrific event happens. Then we all scream “Something must be done!”

We all have a responsibility to those around us.

I may not be be able to make a difference in the national level. But I CAN make a difference to those around me. And that might just make all the difference.

Martin Connor

Very well written and thought provoking piece Sam. Class of 89!!!

Karen Sawyer

thank you for this column, hope people will read and move on and help, not hinder this issue

Charles Hughes

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Stuart Crouch

A good, well-intended and thought-provoking article, Mr. Collins. Based upon these written responses to it, there exists both cause for hope, and some idea that the problem will never be completely eliminated. Still, I applaud your efforts.

Kelly Naschke

Great commentary Mr Collins. It bolsters the respect I have gained from some of your previous commentary.

Craig Mason

Agree

Charles Hughes

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