ABOVE: Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump leads protest march down the streets of Galveston, Texas
Crump Leads Protestors down Same Streets Black Man was Led Down by Horse and Rope
Nationally renowned civil rights attorney Ben Crump followed through on his promise made over a month ago on August 12th, when he declared that if the Galveston Police Department did not release the body camera footage of the controversial incident involving 43-year-old Donald Neely to be able to determine whether his civil rights may have been violated when he was arrested, that he would move forward with a “great march on Galveston.”
Fast forward to Sunday, September 15th and the march on Galveston took place, with several hundred civil rights advocates, elected officials, mental health advocates and human rights advocates, marching down the same street that Neely was paraded down the street with a rope attached to him. On August 3rd, Neely, who is mentally ill, was arrested by two White officers and tied with rope to the officer’s horses and led through the streets of Galveston, where bystanders took photos that sparked outrage online.
Attorney Crump and Bishop James Dixon, who is senior pastor of Community of Faith Church in Houston and vice president of NAACP Houston, led protest marchers in a chant to demand the release of the video, chanting, “Say No Mo’…Release the Video.”
Crump has criticized the Galveston Police Department for hiding behind excuses to withhold footage that the public has a clear right to see.
“When Galveston officers on horseback tied Donald Neely to a rope and shamed him by leading him down the street, they shamed us all,” said Crump. “The callous actions of these officers are reminiscent of how slave hunters treated African Americans in 1800s America. It’s time to bring the treatment of African Americans and citizens with a mental illness into the 21st century.”
On August 12, the day he declared the march would take place, Crump also filed a formal request under the Texas Public Information Act for the release of the body cam footage, which would reveal how the two White officers treated Neely during what should have been a simple arrest nine days prior. Crump states that the mounted officers degraded Neely, who was bound by a rope, by parading him through the streets of downtown Galveston. During the rally, Crump once again demanded that Galveston PD release the body cam video of Neely’s arrest.
“If these officers acted appropriately, the bodycam footage will clear them,” said Crump. “But by trying to keep the recordings secret, the Galveston Police Department only fuels the uncertainty and outrage that have made them a national embarrassment. The people deserve better.”
The Galveston Police Department deployed approximately 40 officers to the area and per the city of Galveston’s City Manager, he states that the body cam footage will be eventually released after an investigation has been completed.
“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,” said Galveston City Manager Brian Maxwell. “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.”
The Galveston Police Department also released a statement in response to the march and the incident in question, stating:
“I respect those who participated in the walk today and value their fundamental right to free speech and peaceful assembly. We grow as a community by listening to each other. I understand why the image of Mr. Neely’s arrest upset many people. This photo conjured up strong emotions and can be seen as offensive or shocking, especially given the historical connotation. This is the method of transportation our mounted patrol officers learned in their training. None-the-less, we want our practices to always reflect the core values of our department and our community. This is why as the police chief and as an agency we are committed to learning from this and continuing our efforts to ensure the department has the best practices and policies in place. I commissioned two independent reviews of the arrest, conducted by the Texas Rangers and the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office. The Texas Rangers completed their review on August 16th and found the officers had not violated the law. We await the administrative review from the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office. The Galveston Police Department strives to serve with respect and integrity through continuous improvement.”
Crump reiterated that once Galveston Police Department releases the video and they can determine the content of the character of the officers involved, to be in line with what the police department is saying, they will leave Galveston, but until then they don’t plan on leaving the city of Galveston any time soon.
As stated before, the Houston Forward Times will keep its readers up-to-date on the latest developments surrounding this shocking incident.