World

Photo of cops leading black man by a rope in Texas sparks outrage

WASHINGTON: A police chief in Texas has apologised after a photo went viral of officers on horseback walking a handcuffed black man by a rope, as if on a leash. The image caused outrage, serving as a reminder of some of the bleakest moments in America's racist past, including the chaining of enslaved people and lynching of blacks.

Mr Vernon Hale, police chief for the Texas city of Galveston, said Mr Donald Neely, who was arrested on Saturday for trespassing, should have been taken to the station in a police car, but only mounted officers were available. He was escorted on foot, led by rope and flanked by the mounted officers.

"Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgement in this instance. First and foremost, I must apologise to Mr Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment," Mr Hale said in a statement on Facebook, adding policy had been changed so the technique would no longer be used.

Some activist groups called his response "weak". Others called for the officers to be penalised or fired for "humiliating" Mr Neely in a manner that recalls extreme acts of racism from the country's past.

"This is 2019 and not 1819," Mr James Douglas, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Houston chapter, told the Houston Chronicle.

Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke, from El Paso, Texas, tweeted: "This moment demands accountability, justice, and honestly (sic) - because we need to call this out for what it is: racism at work." - AFP

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