One word to describe Sandra Bland’s death is terrifying. Bland — a black woman whose arrest and death while in police custody have affected me deeply. I can see myself and every African-American woman in Bland’s shoes on the day of her violent arrest. It reminds me of instances when I too felt victimized and powerless in the presence of police officers who had abused their power. However, considering how many of us are killed at the hands of law-enforcement, we follow their orders whether we believe he or she is wrong or not. In Bland’s death, we continue to watch history repeat itself and have become silenced by injustice.
Bland was different. I believe she took a step toward change. She advocated for victims of police brutality before her death as videos all over the internet show. She knew her rights and exercised them. Bland died fighting for victims of police brutality everywhere. Although her arrest was painful to watch, Bland’s refusal to be taken into custody was an act of bravery on her behalf. She knew exactly what she was up against and what the result could have been. She also knew the police had no valid reason to make an arrest that day and she fought until the end.
Now, I’m not condoning resisting arrest by any means. What I am condoning is educating ourselves on our rights as drivers and as citizens to know what can and cannot be done to us in these type of situations. The day of Bland’s arrest, there was no sign of her breaking the law besides her changing lanes without a signal. A simple ticket would have sufficed.
Like many other high-profile deaths, arrests and beatings in the past by the police–Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Anthony Baez to name a few — the end result was death with several inconsistencies. Officials ruled Bland’s death a suicide by hanging herself.
The ruling is a hard pill to swallow for the family as well as many Bland supporters who aren’t buying what the police say is the cause of her death.
Why aren’t we buying it? The list goes on. One obvious reason is the cop’s unnecessary interrogation and an arrest made for no reason. You could hear her struggling during the arrest in the video. She complained of not being able to hear from being slammed on her head. She also complained of a knee being in her back when being arrested. With an arrest so violent, why would anyone doubt that the police would have taken it further?
Additionally, a form that Bland allegedly filled out revealed that she attempted suicide in 2014, but a computer form that she also allegedly filled out stated that she never attempted suicide–two contradicting forms of information. Furthermore, if she was suicidal or depressed, her family would have had some sort of clue of her condition. This isn’t the case. They seem to be surprised when hearing the information arguing that she had a bright future and would never do such a thing.
On the other hand, let’s say the police are telling the truth. Say she did commit suicide and wrote down that she had a mental illness on the form. She should have been thoroughly supervised. Wouldn’t that be a reason to
make sure that she stays alive? Instead, she was neglected for two hours when the state report notes that there should be a “visual, face to face observation of all inmates by jailers no less than every 60 minutes,” according to CNN. Bland also had many cuts on her arm. Whatever happened that day, there was an obvious lack of regard for Bland’s life. This is something that needs to be addressed because black lives do matter. All lives matter!
How many lives will be taken at the hand of law-enforcement before we put a stop to the cycle of police brutality? A message that our lives are invaluable and that this behavior is okay is definitely clear with so many Black lives that have been taken unjustly. I’m not sure what the next step is, but I do know that we all need to continue to write about it, pray about it, talk about it and keep her name alive until we find out what happen to Sandra Bland. We can and will make a difference if we work together.