Things That Matter

UPDATE: Texas Officers In Viral Horseback Photo Were Allegedly Following Policy

Officers P. Brosch and A. Smith arrested Donald Neely, a 43-year-old Black man, for alleged trespassing in Galveston, Texas. The officers then handcuffed Neely, tied a blue rope to his handcuffs, and used the rope as a leash as they forced him to be dog walked in his own neighborhood to the staging area for the Mounted Patrol Unit. Witnesses took photos of the incident and released them to the public, prompting an outcry over the dehumanization of the man.

The two officers involved in the incident will not face a criminal investigation, according to Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset.

“My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods,” Police Chief Vernon Hale said in a statement.

According to CNN, the officers were following policy when it came to arresting by horseback officers. While a criminal investigation is not happening, there is an investigation being conducted on the county level. The investigation, however, is not into the incident, but rather an investigation in the police forces’ policies.

The visceral effect of the image is rooted in the use of this “technique” to capture and enslave Black people in the antebellum south.

Credit: @luvwinsresist / Twitter

In a Facebook post, Texas’ Galveston Police Department included this statement: 

“Although this is a trained technique and best practice in some scenarios, I believe our officers showed poor judgment in this instance and could have waited for a transport unit at the location of the arrest. My officers did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest, but we have immediately changed the policy to prevent the use of this technique and will review all mounted training and procedures for more appropriate methods.”

Neely’s family attorney, Melissa Morris, says that Neely is mentally ill and homeless.

Credit: @AdrBell / Twitter

Morris told KPRC that Neely lived a normal life as the father of eight children until he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder ten years ago. His family had been looking for him for the last three or four years. When Neely’s sister saw his image go viral, she immediately drove to Galveston to find him.

The Galveston Police Chief Vernon L. Hale III has since released a statement, saying “First and foremost I must apologize to Mister Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment.” Hale has confirmed that this is a commonplace technique that “is considered a best practice in certain scenarios, such as during crowd control, the practice was not the correct use for this instance.” The police department has discontinued the use of the “technique.”

“The family is offended. The family is upset,” Morris told KPRC.

Credit: @BetoORourke / Twitter

“I believe the way they handled him was disgusting,” Morris told the Texas station. “No puedo con esta mierda. Me mudo. Me vomito,” comments one Twitter user.

The police officers have received no consequences for their “poor judgment” at the time of this publication. 

Credit: @oodsfern / Twitter

In 2014, Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill Black man, was shot 14 times by police, though he was unarmed. Some people are calling on the police department to “fire them!” Another Twitter user feels the apology is “Not enough. Officers Brosch and Smith should be ID’d in full and then fired. If the #Galveston Police department treat a Black man like this for a misdemeanor, who knows what savage acts they would commit for a felony.”

Meanwhile, people are showing the treatment of the El Paso shooter who killed 22 people in comparison to a Black man arrested for trespassing.

Credit: @haleystanwood / Twitter

President of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, Leon Phillips, told the Houston Chronicle, “All I know is that these are two white police officers on horseback with a Black man walking him down the street with a rope tied to the handcuffs, and that’s doesn’t make sense, period. And I do understand this —if it was a white man, I guarantee it wouldn’t have happened.”

For some, the photo is further proof of the injustices Black men and women face when dealing with law enforcement.

Credit: @luvwinsresist / Twitter

“Tell me again how racism is dead and that we Black folk just overreact to everything? Don’t worry I’ll wait,” tweets @luvwinsresist. Unfortunately, she didn’t have to wait long.

Nearly half the social media outrage to the photo comes from folks who claim the law is color blind.

Credit: @PATRICI09051947 / Twitter

They seem to be angry that anyone could suggest that race played a role in the way Neely was treated. Photos of other non-Black suspects under arrest by cops on horseback are being circulated. None of the photos we scoured found the use of a rope to function as a leash.

People of color are expending their energy on explaining racism to white folks all over the Internet this week.

Credit: @monicacharley32 / Twitter

After one Twitter user asked if anyone would care if they were Black cops dragging a Black man, Monica Charley chimed in to say, “Yes. I would care. I would care very much. The difference here is that the incident harkens to an earlier era during slavery when this actual act was commonplace for captured slaves. That is the reason for the extreme upset. I hope this clarifies things for you.”

The user responded using “they” language, and once again erasing the anger of Black folks as oversensitive.

Take care of yourselves out there, mi gente.

Credit: @henrygonzilla / Twitter

This week has been pesado in ways we couldn’t even imagine. Take care not to give away precious joules of energy to people who aren’t worthy. Our community has your back.

READ: White Woman Called Black Women The N-Word At A Restaurant And Says “I Would Say It Again”

One Year Later, The Latino Community Remembers The El Paso Shooting

Things That Matter

One Year Later, The Latino Community Remembers The El Paso Shooting

Mario Tama / Getty Images

On August 3, 2019, a man entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas and killed 23 customers and injured 23 more. The shooter, Patrick Crusius, went to the Walmart with the expressed purpose of killing Mexican and Mexican-Americans. One year later, the community is remembering those lost.

One year ago today, a man killed 23 people in an El Paso Walmart targeting our community.

The Latino community was stunned when Patrick Crusius opened fire and killed 23 people in El Paso, Texas. The gunman wrote a manifesto and included his desire to kill as many Mexicans and Mexican-Americans he could in the El Paso Walmart. The days after were filled with grieving the loss of 23 people and trying to understand how this kind of hate could exist in our society.

Representative Veronica Escobar, who represents El Paso, is honoring the victims today.

Rep. Escobar was on the scene shortly after the shooting to be there for her community. The shooting was a reminder of the dangers of the anti-Latino and xenophobic rhetoric that the Trump administration was pushing for years.

“One year ago, our community and the nation were shocked and heartbroken by the horrific act of domestic terrorism fueled by racism and xenophobia that killed 23 beautiful souls, injured 22, and devasted all of us,” Rep. Escobar said in a statement. “Today will be painful for El Pasoans, especially for the survivors and the loved ones of those who were killed, but as we grieve and heal together apart, we must continue to face hate with love and confront xenophobia by treating the stranger with dignity and hospitality.”

El Pasoans are coming together today to remember the victims of the violence that day.

Latinos are a growing demographic that will soon eclipse the white communities in several states. Some experts in demographic shifts understand that this could be a terrifying sign for the white population. These changing demographics give life to racist and hateful ideologies.

“When you have a few people of color, the community is not seen so much as a threat,” Maria Cristina Morales, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso, told USA Today about the fear of changing demographics. “But the more that the population grows – the population of Latinos grow for instance – the more fear that there’s going to be a loss of power.”

The international attack is still felt today because of the constant examples of white supremacy still active today.

“It doesn’t occur to you that there’s a war going on, and there’s always been a war going on—the helicopters the barbed wire—but you just kind of didn’t see it,” David Dorado Romo, an El Paso historian who lost a friend in the shooting, told Time Magazine.

The sudden reminder of the hate out there towards the Latino community was felt nationwide that day. The violent attack that was planned out revealed the true cost of that hate that has been pushed by some politicians.

“El Paso families have the right to live free from fear, and I will continue to honor the victims and survivors with action,” Rep. Escobar said in her statement. “Fighting to end the gun violence and hate epidemics that plague our nation.”

READ: As El Paso Grieves Their Loss, Here Is Everything We Know About The Victims Of The El Paso Massacre, Which Were Mostly Latino

A Couple Wore Swastika Masks To A Walmart But Got Mad When People Called Them Nazis

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A Couple Wore Swastika Masks To A Walmart But Got Mad When People Called Them Nazis

Scott Olson / Getty

An unidentified 59-year-old man and a 64-year-old woman’s choice to wear masks emblazoned with swastikas has caused them to be smacked with a one year ban by Walmart. The ban comes at the hands of the couple’s decision to go shopping in a Minnesota Walmart over the weekend while donning the masks which support white supremacy, nazism, and anti-semitism.

The couple wearing swastika masks have been banned from the retail store for at least a year after their behavior was caught on video.

Edit, since this is going much further than I thought it would (and the trolls and haters are starting to roll in): I…

Posted by Raphaela Mueller on Saturday, July 25, 2020

The unidentified couple were captured going through a checkout lane by Raphaela Mueller, a woman who filmed her encounter with them and then shared it on Facebook.

In the video, the woman wearing the mask can be seen holding up both of her middle fingers and saying “If you vote for [Joe] Biden, you’re going to be in Nazi Germany. That’s what it’s going to be like.”

She does this as another shopper tells her “You cannot be American and wear that mask.” In response, the woman rejected being labeled a Nazi. After patrons asked her to remove the mask she marched away and yelled, “F*** you.”

In her post about the incident, Mueller wrote “I was born and raised in Germany, and I grew up hearing about my great-grandmother who fought in the underground against the first wave of Nazis in the 1930s and 40s. Let me make this abundantly clear once and for all – THE SWASTIKA IS A HATE SYMBOL AND YOU DO NOT FLY THE FLAG, YOU DO NOT WEAR THE SYMBOL ANYWHERE ON YOUR BODY, YOU DO NOT USE OR DEFEND THIS SYMBOL, EVER. END OF STORY.”

Speaking to the Associated Press, Mueller went onto explain “I was speechless and shocked. I have heard of [things like this] happening in other places but I never thought I would see something like that.”

In response to the incident, police were called to the store and ultimately they served the couple with trespass notices on behalf of Walmart.

According to a Walmart spokesperson who talked to AP, the store offered the couple disposable face masks to change into but they both refused. Minnesota put into effect a mask mandate over the weekend that requires all customers at stores to wear masks.

“The incident is unacceptable, and the two customers involved were trespassed,” Walmart (who made masks mandatory for customers on July 20) said in a statement addressing the incident. “We will not tolerate any form of discrimination or harassment inside our stores.”

Soon after their interaction with the police, the man and woman were warned that they could be arrested if they decided to return to the store.