Jul 20, 2015
Twenty-eight-year-old Sandra Bland was stopped by the police on Friday, July 10th, for failing to use her turn signal while changing lanes. Three days later, she died in a Texas jail.
Bland was involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. She had posted a series of videos online speaking out against police brutality and racial injustice.
A cell phone video captures the police holding her down on the ground in a prone position while she yelled, “Hey! You just slammed my head on the ground! ...All of this for a turn signal! I can’t hear!” An eye witness says he saw the police pull Bland out of her car and throw her to the ground.
The police arrested her and charged her with “assault of a public servant.” The video and eye witness account obviously call into question who did the assaulting.
The police are claiming that Bland committed suicide in her cell using a trash bag. According to Bland’s family, suicide as the cause of death is ridiculous. “When you think through the circumstances that have been shared with us to this point, it is unimaginable and difficult for us to wrap our minds around the Sandy that we knew for this to be characteristic of her,” Bland’s sister said.
Sheriff Glenn Smith – the one who pronounced Bland’s death a suicide – had been removed from his previous post as chief of police of Hempstead, Texas, amidst accusations of racism. So why the hell is he still working as a sheriff? They didn’t fire him. No! They just changed his jurisdiction to continue police business as usual.
Bland was fighting against precisely this kind of injustice. There have also been protests outside the jail. People continuing to protest is the only way to get the police to answer to their crimes.