TEXAS, United States - Images of two white mounted policemen leading a black man by a rope through the streets of a Texas town have prompted outrage and demands for disciplinary action against the officers.

Rights groups said that the pictures of Donald Neely, 43, who was arrested for trespassing in a business district of Galveston, near Houston, were reminiscent of images of slavery or lynchings carried out by Ku Klux Klan members.

The Galveston police chief said that the force had apologised to Mr Neely, but that roping up suspects was sometimes the best way for mounted police to bring them in.

The officers “did not have any malicious intent at the time of the arrest”, Vernon L. Hale III said, but added: “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.”

Mr Neely’s family and civil rights leaders in Galveston have demanded further sanctions. Leon Phillips, president of the Galveston Coalition for Justice, said the officers should be sacked. “If it was a white man, he wouldn’t have been treated that way,” he 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.”

Mr Phillips said the image made him particularly emotional because he remembered the pain of segregation, when “people said and did whatever they wanted to”. He added: “Every black person that’s over the age of 30 years old will have a thought of what it used to be like.”

Mr Neely’s sister said her brother suffered from mental illness and had been homeless, and was upset by how the officers had treated him. He has been released on bail.(FA)