New evidence in the case of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Black woman found dead in a Texas jail cell, revealed no injuries consistent with the common belief she was murdered.
Bland’s alleged suicide while in police custody has been clouded by suspicion as it comes on the heels of a year filled with extreme cases of police brutality and violence against Black people.
The untimely and heartbreaking event interrupted Bland’s promising life, completes a devastating and alarming trilogy of similar reports of Black female death in police custody. Kindra Chapman, an 18-year-old woman in a Homewood, Alabama jail cell, and just recently, Ralkina Jones, 37, died in Cleveland, Ohio.
What began as a “routine” traffic stop for Bland, ended in the unnecessary death of a Black woman, with very few real answers.
The Black community has been in uproar as they called foul on the inconsistencies in police reports and the recent release of seemingly altered dashcam footage of Bland’s arrest.
Bland was not a criminal, she harmed no one. She wasn’t a drug addict and she was days away from starting her dream job.
The single most disturbing thing about the Sandra Bland case is that Sandra could have been any of us.
While this new evidence may confirm suggestions Bland was not physically killed by police, it does not exempt police from the responsibility of her death.
Bland was like any other Black woman, working hard in life to succeed and occasionally stumbling, like humans do.
Reports have tried hard to imply Bland was suffering from depression that could have ultimately led to her suicide; citing a past Facebook video that Bland discusses some hardships she was facing and experiencing a miscarriage.
Bland’s sister explains that as siblings, they were the type to overshare, and while Bland was slightly depressed after the loss of her pregnancy, she managed to get through it, according to accounts from her family and friends.
The police report states Sandra was currently taking Keppra, a drug for epilepsy known to cause suicidal tendencies in only one out of 500 people, but Bland’s sister confirmed she didn’t, in fact, take Keppra and hadn’t suffered from a seizure in years.
Larger mainstream press, accompanied by Texas state authorities, have done a number on painting Bland as a combative and angry Black woman whose alleged rage overtook her and resulted in her taking her own life.
They pointed out had she been “more cooperative” or less “arrogant” as a CNN contributor said, she wouldn’t have ended up in jail or died, the same way a girl could have avoided rape if only she had worn a longer skirt.
What the media fails to discuss is the fact that Bland never belonged alone in a jail cell for three days because of a supposed traffic violation.
Even if Sandra Bland killed herself while alone in her jail cell, it was most certainly not the result of personal demons.
Bland, was by all accounts, cheerful and on her way to start a new job, she had a plan and a life to look forward to. Being physically threatened, brutalized, and thrown in a jail cell was not in that plan.
A traffic stop does not warrant three days alone in a jail cell, isolated from other inmates, just like selling loose cigarettes doesn’t warrant suffocating to death under the knee of a police officer.
The theme of extreme injustice against Black people runs strong through Bland’s story, just as it did in Eric Garner’s, Mike Brown’s and the countless lives lost at the hands of police in America.
Bland was incarcerated for three days for what authorities and arguably much of America perceived as angry Black woman syndrome.
Her refusal to allow police to violate her basic rights, to bend to the will of a White male officer, resulted in imprisonment under purposefully extreme isolated conditions.
If Bland took her own life, she was driven to a suicidal state by police mistreatment, isolation, and injustice she could never fathom. Bland’s conclusive suicide according to autopsies isn’t a life disregarded or uncounted. There’s blood on the hands of the state of Texas regardless.
Bland’s story leaves unanswered questions and poses so many more. It’s a reminder that being Black in America constitutes a target that no amount of respectability politics, polite police conversation or “cooperation” can protect us from.
Photo Credit: Rodolfo Gonzalez