“You have to be aware of the images we portray,” he said. “We talk about it when we talk about use of force, when we talk about vehicle pursuits. Quite frankly, I never would have dreamed of it in the context of mounted officers.”
But Hale’s statement sparked frustration, with some activist groups saying his response was “weak” and “inadequate”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Clayborne Carson of Stanford University said the incident was “not just a matter of training” the police officers.
“Anyone who has the slightest awareness of American history would understand the implication of seeing a black man paraded in that manner. It resonates with the worst aspects of racism, going back to slavery,” Carson said.
Others called for the officers to be penalised or fired for “humiliating” Neely in a manner that recalls extreme acts of racism from the country’s past, or even convicted criminals exhibited in public squares.
“This is 2019 and not 1819,” James Douglas, president of the NAACP’s Houston chapter, told the Houston Chronicle.
Mary Patrick, president of the Galveston chapter of the NAACP, told the Galveston County Daily News that the department had an obligation to explain the officers’ actions to the public. Patrick later said she had spoken with Hale and the police chief had the NAACP’s support.