Things That Matter

Update: The Black Man Led Through Texas By Police On Horseback Is Suing The City For $1 Million

 

Updated October 12, 2020.

Two Gavelston, Texas police officers arrested 43-year-old Donald Neely on criminal trespassing 50 miles south-east of Houston. The officers are both white, while Neely is black, thus, a photograph of the two officers on horseback escorting Neely whose hands were tied with a rope, sparked public outrage. Civil Rights advocacy groups felt the picture echoed imagery from the Jim Crow era or Antebellum south. 

While the Gavelston police were quick to apologize and change their policies, protestors demanded the officers’ release their bodycam footage of the incident, which took place last August. 

Now, Neely is suing Galveston, Texas, and its police department for more than $1 million after the incident.

Officers arrested Donald Neely on horseback last fall.

In the absence of a police vehicle, two white officers led Neely by rope as they rode on horseback through the streets of Gavelston. Reports describe Neely as homeless and mentally ill after he was arrested for trespassing. When a photo of the incident began to circulate online, there was a national outcry with many believing it was needlessly degrading. 

The police department admitted the officers demonstrated “poor judgment” and would not arrest someone using this method again. 

Galveston’s police chief, Vernon Hale apologized calling the rope an, “unnecessary embarrassment.”

“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,” Hale said. “We understand the negative perception of this action and believe it is most appropriate to cease the use of this technique.”

Neeley’s lawsuit states that he was humiliated by the officers as he was led down the street and wants to ensure that no one else endures a similar experience.

“Many individuals stopped, stared and asked questions. Neely felt as though he was put on display as slaves once were,” the lawsuit states.

Neely’s lawyer, Julie Ketterman, told CNN in a statement that her client “wants people to know that this lawsuit isn’t just about money. It’s about what is right and wrong for all people — whether they are black or white or whether they suffer from mental illness or whether they are homeless or not.”

Donald Neely’s family reacted on Facebook. 

Imagine that you have a relative who is homeless and mentally ill… Imagine that YOU are aware that living on the…

Posted by Christin Nicole on Monday, August 5, 2019

Donald Neely’s sister Christin Neely took to Facebook after the photos when viral. She shared her family’s story. Donald is mentally ill and became transient because of it. His family is still remarkably supportive and regularly searches for him when he goes missing. Fully aware that his unfortunate circumstances make him a target of law enforcement, it was no less traumatizing to discover how her brother had been arrested by seeing the viral photos.

“Imagine that you have a relative who is homeless and mentally ill… Imagine searching the streets of a city for days looking for your loved one, to no avail,” Christin wrote. “Just imagine for one second being one of his children who have been fatherless for years and your father isn’t incarcerated or dead. With all of that in mind, now imagine scrolling fb and seeing said loved one being escorted to jail on foot by 2 officers on horses, hands cuffed behind his back with a rope attached. In 2019???? He was treated like an animal paraded through the streets.”

After Christin’s post and viral outrage ensued, Hale issued an apology to Donald

“First and foremost I must apologize to Mr. Neely for this unnecessary embarrassment. 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 arrest,” Hale said. 

Civil Rights groups and protestors have demanded more action in the case. 

https://twitter.com/TezlynFigaro/status/1179505718673719297

Civil Rights advocacy groups were not completely satisfied with the way the arrest was handled, even if they did appreciate the police’s quick apology. However, no disciplinary action was taken with the two officers. 

“If it was a white man, he wouldn’t have been treated that way,” Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, told the New York Times. “I guarantee there’s nothing in their rules that you can put a leash on a guy while you ride down the street on a horse.”

Phillips said that he grew up during segregation and the image made him emotional because during that time “people said and did whatever they wanted to,” to black folk. For Phillips, this incident was all too similar to many he had witnessed before. 

“This is 2019 and not 1819,” James Douglas, the president of Houston’s NAACP, told the Houston Chronicle. “I am happy to know that Chief Vernon [Hale] issued an apology and indicated that the act showed poor judgment, but it also shows poor training. Even though the chief indicated that the technique would be discontinued he failed to address the lack of respect demonstrated by the officers in the episode.”

Protestors were able to get Gavelston police to release bodycam footage.

Protestors and advocates successfully got the Gavelston police to release bodycam footage of the incident. The two officers, Amanda Smith and Patrick Brosch each made their footage public. 

In the video, Brosch asks Smith if she should go get her truck, but Smith feared their sergeant did not want the officers to separate. 

“This is gonna look really bad,” Brosch says laughing, as they start escorting Donald Neely with the rope. “This is gonna look so bad. I’m glad you’re not embarrassed, Mr. Neely.” 

Police Chief Hale says that the report and footage will be used to determine if further action must be taken.

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Amy Coney Barrett Has Refused To Acknowledge That Systematic Racism Exists

Things That Matter

Amy Coney Barrett Has Refused To Acknowledge That Systematic Racism Exists

Pool / Getty

We know LGBTQ rights, birth control, and race are under threat as Amy Coney Barrett as President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. We know that that conservative judge has been evasive in answering comments about her beliefs which, if appointed, would steer her in making fundamental decisions that could affect American citizens’ lives for decades. Still, though we knew things are bound to go sideways as most things under the Trump administration have, we didn’t realize that an educated woman living in today’s world would refuse to acknowledge a basic societal fact: that “systemic racism” exists in the United States.

In written responses submitted Tuesday night, Barrett repeated her refusal to say whether “systemic racism” exists in our country.

After Sen. Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii asked her to explain her view of the existence of “systemic racism” in the United States, Barret refused the opportunity to acknowledge its existence.

“At the hearing, you acknowledged that racism persists in our country, but you refused to answer where there is systemic racism, calling it a ‘policy question.’ You also refused to answer other questions based on your view that they are ‘policy questions,’” Hirono wrote in his questions. “What makes a statement a policy question rather than a question of fact?”

“I believe that racism persists in our country, but as I explained at the hearing, whether there is ‘systemic racism’ is a public policy question of substantial controversy, as evidenced by the disagreement among senators on this very question during the hearing,” Barrett replied. “As a sitting judge and judicial nominee, it would be inappropriate for me to offer an opinion on the matter.”

Barrett’s approach to the question is not totally uncommon. Previous Supreme Court nominees have avoided answering questions concerning precedent. Barrett clung to the approach during her confirmation hearing last week while sitting before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Barrett used this as a standard and repeatedly cited it as a reason for dodging questions.

Systemic racism exists within our country without question.

It persists in our academic settings, workplaces, as well as in our court and judicial system. The fact is that when a certain group dominates a majority of positions of decision-making power, others struggle to exist and get by let alone get ahead. For generations and right now, white people have been the dominating group with decision-making power and people of color have suffered as a result. Acknowledgment is a vital part of making this change. Particularly from our leaders.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Barrett’s confirmation on Thursday afternoon.

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JLo Is In Hot Water For Her Lyrics In New Song With Maluma After She Calls Herself ‘La Negrita’

Entertainment

JLo Is In Hot Water For Her Lyrics In New Song With Maluma After She Calls Herself ‘La Negrita’

Focus On Sport / Getty Images

One of the few highlights we’ve had amid this unprecedented year of trauma has been the music industry. From Maluma and Cardi B to Bad Bunny’s surprise albums, we’ve been blessed with some of the best songs ever. Plain and simple.

Despite the global pandemic, many singers have managed to stay busy and put out new tracks. Maluma and Jennifer Lopez are no different as the duo are working on music for their upcoming movie project, Marry Me.

However, the one of the tracks from the upcoming film isn’t getting the type of reception that JLo had likely counted on.

Jennifer Lopez is facing criticism for calling herself a “Little Black girl from the Bronx” in her new track with Maluma.

Despite the pandemic putting the breaks on so many aspects of the entertainment industry, Jennifer Lopez has managed to keep herself busy with new projects. One of her most hyped projects has got to be her collaboration with Maluma on the upcoming film, Marry Me.

In anticipation of the film’s release on Valentine’s Day 2021, the pair have released two new tracks that will also be in the movie’s soundtrack. However, the most recently released song, “Lonely,” isn’t getting the attention that neither JLo or Maluma had likely hoped for.

In the lyrics for the song, which JLo sings with Maluma, Lopez sings “yo siempre seré tu negrita del Bronx” (I’ll always be your Black girl from the Bronx). Obviously, that lyric is causing loads of controversy and fans and critics alike are letting Lopez know they’re out OK with it.

Many are taking issue with the lyrics because “Jenny From The Block” has never really claimed or referenced herself as Black in the past. So why now? And why use an outdated term that’s incredible insensitive to the Afro-Latinx community.

Negrita is a questionable Spanish term that should definitely be phased out amid Spanish-speakers.

Many people are taking issue with the lyrics because they include the controversial term negrita, which is really an outdated Spanish-language term that’s often used as a term of endearment to describe people who are dark-skinned.

It’s a common nickname among Spanish-speakers but it should be phased out of the Spanish language as it’s extremely insensitive to Afro-Latinos.

Both fans and critics have called out Lopez on Twitter.

Fans were obviously confused as to why Jennifer would describe herself as ‘Black’. 

‘Maybe if she said brown girl she coulda gotten away with it,’ one fan said.  Another commented on social media: ‘This is so insulting as an actual black woman.’ 

‘I heard the song and I was like “what she just say? Rewind that. cause she definitely not Afro Latina,’ one fan said. 

However, many others from the Latina community weighed in to explain that while the translation of ‘negrita’ literally means ‘black girl’, it’s not used in that sense. 

‘If your hispanic or latino you know what she means. yes it sounds weird asf the literal translation but that’s not what she means,’ one fan explained.  They continued: ‘As far as I know it’s like a term of endearment for darker complexion within the community. I think she should have not used it being that not everyone would get it and in my opinion her skin isn’t even considered dark. Plus with the times we are in like let’s do better.”

This isn’t the first time the singer has come under fire for insensitive actions around race.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that Jennifer Lopez has been called out for appropriating Black culture, but this is the first time that she’s facing such a major backlash.

Jennifer Lopez has proudly claimed her identity as a Puerto Rican woman but she’s never claimed Black ancestry or self-identified as an Afro-Latina – so her use of the term is troubling.

In the 2001 hit remix of “I’m Real” with Ja Rule and Ashanti, JLo sang along to the N-word slur and faced a similar backlash then. She ended up going on The Today Show to claim that the lyrics were written by Ja Rule and were “not meant to be hurtful to anybody.” She went on to say that “for anyone to think or suggest that I’m racist is really absurd and hateful to me.”

Then there was the whole debacle from this year’s Super Bowl halftime show (which feels like a lifetime ago!) when many criticized her and Shakira for performing for a franchise that didn’t support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hopefully, this incident on JLo’s part will bring with it a discussion about the term negrita and we can finally eliminate it as a ‘playful nickname’ in the Spanish-speaking community.

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