"You just slammed my head to the ground. Do you not even care about that?"
These were some of the last words of 28-year-old Sandra Bland.1 On Friday, Texas State troopers pulled Sandra over as she was driving to her new job for allegedly not using the turn signals during a lane change. What happened next was all too familiar and terrifying.
An eyewitness says police ripped Sandra out of the car, violently slammed her on the ground, and arrested her as she screamed for help. Just 72 two hours later, she was dead. Police are claiming Sandra took her own life, but her family and friends don't believe it.2
Local District Attorney Elton Mathis has handed over the investigation to the same police agency that arrested Sandra.3 That's why I started a petition to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, which says:
The local police department and prosecutor's office each have a long history of racism and corruption. Last year, District Attorney Mathis threatened a local reverend who spoke out about racist prosecutions, saying he would release his "hounds" on the Reverend. Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith was fired from the police department in Hempstead, Texas for documented cases of racism.4, 5
Sandra's family says that Sandra would never kill herself and that police seem to be covering up her death.6
According to her loved ones, Sandra Bland was a loving, compassionate woman, with a promising future ahead. This would have been her first week at a new job working student outreach at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. She was also a vocal advocate against police brutality and often spoke about ending racism and police violence.
But in a world where Black people are stereotyped as "violent" and police often exist to enforce the boundaries of a deeply divided and racist society, who Sandy was or the life she was creating did not matter. To be Black in America, is to be safe nowhere. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be targeted by police and incarcerated than white women.7
The Department of Justice and Attorney General Lynch have the responsibility—and the power—to address the systemic police violence targeting Black communities. The reality is, that racism, corruption and a deep-seated culture of secrecy prevent local and state police from holding themselves accountable. Without it, police will continue to kill and prosecutors will continue to do nothing.
–Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org
1. "6 Things You Need To Know About Sandra Bland," The Huffington Post, July 17, 20152. "Sandra Bland's Death Will Be Investigated as Murder: District Attorney," NBCNews, July 20, 2015
3. "Why is the same agency that arrested Sandra Bland investigating her death, too?" Fusion, July 16, 2015
4 "Community groups call for removal of Waller County district attorney," KRPC Houston, June 9, 2014
5. "Sheriff in Sandra Bland Case Was Fired in 2008 After Racism, Brutality Allegations," Slate, July 16, 2015
6. "6 Things You Need To Know About Sandra Bland," The Huffington Post, July 17, 2015
7. "The Motivating Forces Behind Black Lives Matter," GOOD, July 20, 2015
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