Across the US, Activists Shine Light on Sandra Bland’s Myste

The progress from Western colonial global expansion, and the construction of American wealth and industry on the backs of enslaved Blacks and Native peoples, followed by the abrupt "emancipation" of the slaves and their exodus from the South to the Northern cities, has led us to our current divided society. Divided by economic inequities and unequal access to social resources, the nation lives in a media dream of social harmony, or did until YouTube set its bed on fire. Now, it is common knowledge that our current system of brutal racist policing and punitive over-incarceration serves the dual purpose of maintaining racial prejudice and the inequities it justifies. Brief yourself on this late-breaking development in American history here.

Across the US, Activists Shine Light on Sandra Bland’s Myste

Postby admin » Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:53 pm

Across the US, Activists Shine Light on Sandra Bland’s Mysterious Death
by Ashoka Jegroo
July 31, 2015

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The Sandra Bland case has since put a spotlight on many other suspicious deaths of people, particularly women of color, while in police custody. But for most people following the case, the main question remains the same: What happened to Sandra Bland?

In cities across the United States on July 29, the name of Sandra Bland, a woman whose mysterious death in police custody recently made headlines, could be seen bringing light to dark city nights.

The demonstrations were part of a nationwide action to remember Bland and bring attention to her death. Additionally, a petition by the nonprofit activist organization UltraViolet is soon to be delivered to the Department Of Justice and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, seeking a federal investigation into Bland’s death.

“There is going to be a massive petition tomorrow delivered to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation into [Sandra Bland’s] death and accountability for the officers who are responsible,” said Gan Golan, co-founder of the NYC Light Brigadeand member of People’s Climate Arts. “And so this action was part of a multi-city action where there are light brigades all across the country going out tonight and spelling out in big lights ‘Say Her Name’ and ‘Sandra Bland’ and other messages like ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Unite 4 Justice’ to help amplify this call for justice and accountability.”

Bland was found dead in a Waller County, Texas jail cell on July 13, three days after being arrested by Officer Brian Encinia during a stop for a minor traffic violation. Police claim that Bland hanged herself, but Bland’s family and many activists have expressed doubts that she would commit suicide and suspect a murder and cover-up by police. Bland had just moved back to Texas in order to start a new job on August 3 at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University.

When dashcam footage of Bland’s arrest was made public, activists also expressed outrage at how Officer Encinia treated Bland during the stop and the subsequent arrest, commanding her to put out her cigarette and pulling her out of her car when she refused to do so. The released footage also included many obvious visual glitches, such as images being repeated and cars randomly disappearing, which led to claims that the video was edited and leading to even more suspicion of the police story.

The case has since put a spotlight on many other suspicious deaths of people, particularly women of color, while in police custody. Bland’s advocacy and involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement has also galvanized many other members of the movement to put more focus on police violence committed against black women. But for most people following the case, the main question remains the same: What happened to Sandra Bland?

The NYC Light Brigade, as well as light brigades in Houston, Milwaukee, Chicago,Washington, D.C., and other cities, joined up with UltraViolet to draft the petition to the DOJ.

“It’s important to come out for Sandra Bland because we have to name specific individuals,” said Athena Soules, co-founder of the NYC Light Brigade. “This is happening everywhere all the time. People of color are being mistreated by the cops, mistreated and murdered. So I believe the more we speak about specific people, the more we demand an investigation, the more progress can be made moving forward.”

But regardless of how Bland died, many activists still see the police as the ones responsible for her death.

“What happened tonight was a really moving vigil to honor the life of Sandra Bland and to call attention to the incredibly egregious and unjust death, and possible murder, of this innocent woman and to demand that there is actually accountability for the police who are responsible for this,” Golan said. “Whether she was murdered or whether she committed suicide, they are absolutely responsible for what happened to her.”

After the NYC Light Brigade and dozens of supporters gathered near the arch in Washington Square Park on Wednesday night, they held up Bland’s name and chanted “Say her name! Sandra Bland” and “Black lives matter!” Tourists and onlookers also crowded around and took pictures and discussed Bland’s case and the recent shooting of Sam DuBose by police in Cincinnati. New York City police monitored the vigil from a distance as people held up the letters of Bland’s name for as long as they could while speakers expressed their anger and sorrow over what happened to Bland. Whenever one person’s arms started getting weak, other supporters were always willing to step in and help hold up Bland’s name.

“As I like to say, it’s solidarity through light,” Souls said. “When people hold these letters, it shows that people are behind the messages. It’s not just a banner being hung. It’s people holding their arms high, getting tired because they believe in what they’re out here for.”
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Re: Across the US, Activists Shine Light on Sandra Bland’s M

Postby admin » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:54 pm

Revised Dash Cam Video Shows Arrest of Alleged Suicide Victim
by Andrew Emett
July 23, 2015

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


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While Sandra Bland’s death had been ruled a suicide from self-inflicted asphyxiation, her family suspects Bland was the victim of foul play. With the release of the unedited version of the dash cam video, could this tell the truth?

Published: July 23, 2015 | Authors: Andrew Emett | NationofChange | News Report
Pulled over for making a lane change without signaling, Sandra Bland was forcibly removed from her car and arrested because she refused to put out her cigarette. Three days later, Bland was found dead inside her jail cell hanging from a metal hook. On Tuesday, Texas officials released the dash cam video of Bland’s arrest, but some of the footage appeared to be edited and missing. To dispel any speculation that the video had been doctored, the Texas Department of Public Safety recently released the dash cam footage in its entirety.

Around 4:30 p.m. on July 10, Sandra Bland was driving through Waller County, Texas, when Officer Brian Encinia pulled her over for failing to signal during a lane change. After giving her driver’s license and insurance card to Officer Encinia, Bland remained in her vehicle while Encinia spent several minutes in his patrol car running a background check on her. After exiting his patrol car, Encinia approached Bland’s vehicle and began writing out a warning.

According to the dash cam footage, Encinia immediately observes that Bland is irritated. Bland explains that she doesn’t understand why Encinia is giving her a ticket for getting out of his way when he was speeding up behind her. When Encinia asks Bland to put out her cigarette, she responds, “I’m in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?”

Instead of answering her question, Encinia escalated the situation and ordered Bland to step out of her car. When Bland refused to exit her vehicle, Encinia opened her door and attempted to physically remove her. Bland repeatedly asked the officer why she was being arrested, but Encinia refused to answer her.

Unable to remove Bland due to the fact that she was wearing her seatbelt, Encinia pulled out his Taser and aimed it at her face. After Encinia threatened to light her up, Bland exited her vehicle and attempted to record the encounter with her cell phone. Instead of allowing her to record the incident, Encinia ordered her to drop her phone.

After Bland placed her cell phone on the trunk of her car, Encinia cuffed her hands behind her back and yanked her back and forth across the sidewalk. Instead of explaining why he was arresting Bland, Encinia called for backup before slamming her head to the ground. When Bland told the officers that she has epilepsy, Encinia responded, “Good.”

At that moment, a bystander began recording the incident on his cell phone. When Encinia noticed the witness, the officer immediately ordered him to leave. Instead of complying with Encinia’s orders, the bystander continued recording and responded, “I’m on public property.”

As police escorted Bland to a patrol car, she thanked the bystander for recording the incident and told him that the officers had slammed her head against the ground for a simple traffic ticket. Bland was taken to the Waller County Jail and charged with assaulting an officer. Although Encinia reported that Bland had swung her elbows at him and kicked him in the shin, neither of the videos showed Bland attacking the officer.

Bland was given her own jail cell and allowed to call to her family. She asked for help covering her $5,000 bail and wanted to take legal action against Encinia. According to a Waller County sheriff’s official, Bland refused a breakfast tray at 6:30 a.m. on July 13. Over two hours later, a guard reportedly found Bland hanging in her cell with a plastic trashcan liner wrapped around her neck.

According to her autopsy, Bland’s death has been ruled a suicide from self-inflicted asphyxiation, but her family and Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis suspect Bland was the victim of foul play. Bland’s family has called for an independent autopsy, while the Texas Rangers and the FBI have launched an investigation to determine whether Bland was murdered in her jail cell. Although motion-sensitive cameras periodically recorded people walking across the hallway leading up to Bland’s door, no footage shows anyone entering or exiting Bland’s cell before her death. The FBI is investigating the hard drives to see if any officers tampered with the footage.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the dash cam footage from Encinia’s patrol car. Due to the fact that footage appeared to be missing from the video, speculation immediately arose concerning the possibility that it had been intentionally edited. The next day, Texas officials released an unedited version of the dash cam video and issued a press release.

Tom Vinger, press secretary for the Texas Department of Public Safety, stated, “Yesterday’s video was not edited. The entire video was uploaded Tuesday to include the audio and video of the conversation the trooper had by telephone with his sergeant, which occurred after the arrest. Some of the video was affected in the upload. That technical issue has now been resolved.”

After the Texas Department of Public Safety found that Encinia violated procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy, the officer has been placed on administrative duties.

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