September 22, 2023

Remnants of Slavery and the Galveston Police Department

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By Senator Borris Miles

During the 86th Legislative Session, I reminded my colleagues about how remnants of slavery still existed today when deliberating bills on the Sugar Land 95, and the removal of Confederate statues and monuments. Several news outlets reported the site where Fort Bend ISD uncovered the remains of 95 individuals who were part of the state’s convict leasing program. I fought with the community to ensure that this site and these remains would be memorialized and we won. Earlier this year, Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), the only other African American state senator in Texas, and I fought against a bill that would make it harder to remove Confederate statues and monuments. This bill later died in the Texas House. But statues and buried human remains are not the only remnants that are around us, it’s the actions by our fellow man.

Last week, photos surfaced of two Galveston Police Mounted Patrol Officers escorting Donald Neely, a Black man, handcuffed and being led by a rope. This chilling photo went viral because the imagery was reminiscent of how slaves were treated. Regardless of why Mr. Neely was arrested, he deserved to be treated with dignity and respect by law enforcement. Those officers decided to handcuff him, lead him by rope while they were on horseback and parade him around town like he was a public spectacle. This is outrageous!

I condemned the actions of these officers during this arrest and for unnecessarily subjecting Mr. Neely to that public humiliation. I thank Galveston Police Chief Vernon Hale for his swift response and apology to Mr. Neely. I ask him to thoroughly investigate those two officers and consider disciplinary actions and to institute department-wide sensitivity training to ensure that officers, present and future understand why this was wrong, why it was inhumane and why it was downright racist.

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