It was a year ago today, Sandra Bland‘s name and image became cemented in our minds when the 28-year-old was found dead in her Texas jail cell. She was found hanging and her death was ruled a suicide, but a year later, things still don’t add up.
Bland, a native of Chicago, was in Texas for a job interview at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. She was stopped by a police officer in Waller County, Texas for switching lanes without signaling. After a verbal confrontation with Officer Brian Encinia, Bland was arrested. There’s dashboard video of Bland’s traffic stop with Encinia, where he claimed she kicked him, but the video shows no such thing. Bland was held in Waller County Jail on suspicion of assaulting an officer and three days later, was found hanging in her jail cell.
Her death sparked outrage around the country with many suspecting foul play and not believing a woman such as Bland would kill herself. It also caused people to wonder why so many Black people die in police custody.
Bland’s name not only became hashtag, but so did #IfIDieInPoliceCustody.
Bland was an activist fighting against police brutality and for the fair treatment of Black people in this country. She knew her rights and posted several videos on Facebook discussing social issues in the Black community. In one video, Bland said, “Being a Black person in America is very very hard. Black lives matter. They matter.”
Even though we still don’t know how Bland actually died, Encinia was fired and charged with perjury for lying about how he removed Bland from her car. Til this day, no one has been indicted in connection with Bland’s death.
It may feel like divine intervention being that it’s one year after Bland’s death and we’re barely a week removed from America witnessing some of the worst instances of police brutality all thanks to social media. Videos of Alton Sterling being killed by Baton Rouge, La. police for selling CDs outside a store and Philando Castile being killed by St. Paul, Minn. police for reaching for his wallet all went viral and the call to action could no longer be ignored. Then during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas, five members of the Dallas Police Department were killed by a sniper.
It’s safe to say if Bland were alive today and witnessed last week’s events, she be would be outraged, sad and heartbroken. Sadly, a year after her death, America has not changed in regards to police and how Black people are treated by law enforcement. Some would argue we’re even worse off than before.
So, what can we do to honor Bland? Keep fighting the way she would if she were still alive. Keep fighting not only for Bland and the other victims of police brutality who aren’t here with us anymore, but for the next generation so there burden won’t be as heavy.
Photo Credit: Forbes.com