It is a scene that immediately brings to mind violence against slaves and lynchings in US history. In August 2019, Donald Neely, a black homeless person in Galveston, Texas, was arrested by two police officers for illegally entering an office building. Neely was led away with handcuffs tied with a rope. While the police officers rode horses, he had to trot alongside.

Now, Neely, who is at large, has sued the city of Galveston for $ 1 million in compensation. In the complaint, the 44-year-old, who suffers from mental problems, described the action against him as “extreme and monstrous”. Not only did he suffer physical injuries, but he was also exposed to great emotional stress. For him it felt as if he was being brought before those who were supposed to protect him, like slaves once did. Neely is not just about money, his lawyer told US media. Neely, who is receiving psychotherapeutic help and is in the process of getting his life in order, wants to ensure that no one in the USA is treated in this way.

The Galveston Police Chief immediately admitted that the police officers’ behavior was legal, but reprehensible, apologized to Neely and banned the practice with immediate effect. The officers who took Neely away at the time were also aware of the symbolism. On published recordings of the body cameras that they wore in action, one of the police officers involved can be heard saying several times that this would “look really bad” when the rope was attached.

The outrage was also high after video and photo recordings of the arrest were seen online. A trespassing charge against Neely was dismissed in court. His lawsuit against the City of Galveston will be decided in January. Alexander Isele