Say Her Name: #JusticeForSandy
Say Her Name: #JusticeForSandy
What happened to Sandra Bland? That seems to be the question on a lot of people's minds lately. At least, it is on the minds of people who are tired of seeing racism impede any sort of justice in the United States. I will go over the background of her story, but I would still recommend looking up her case before reading this.
To summarize, Sandra Bland was pulled over on a Texas road for a routine traffic stop for "improperly signaling." Sandra was new to the area, as she just moved from Chicago to start her job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M, as a student outreach coordinator; naturally, this would mean Sandra was not familiar with the road system, and an "improper signal" would be an understandable mistake that would, at most, warrant a ticket.
Instead, the officers that arrested her, claiming she assaulted one of them, brutalized Sandra. On the video that a bystander recorded, Sandra appears to be on the ground while two officers hold her down. She can be heard yelling about the officers hurting her and slamming her head into the ground, and the officers can be seen doing absolutely nothing to alleviate Bland's pain. As Sandra is dragged into the police car, she thanks the bystander for recording, presumably because it shows that she was the one assaulted—not the other way around.
Then, she was held in jail on a Friday night on $5,000 bond with charges of allegedly assaulting an officer. Bland was last seen alive on Monday morning at 7 a.m. to receive her breakfast; just two hours later, she was found dead in her cell. The medical examiner declared the death a suicide by hanging, claiming he saw a dark mark around her neck and a plastic bag in the cell, which is what he presumed she used to hang herself.
While suicide and depression are very serious, very sensitive issues that we should treat with respect, the details of Sandra's story do not really add up. She went all the way to Texas from Chicago to start a new job—why would she put in all that effort if she were not intending to live? Also, every single one of Bland's close family members said they do not believe that Sandra committed suicide based on her personality and the utter lack of any suicidal tendencies throughout her life. And finally, Sandra was ready to post bail to be released from the county jail. Why would she prepare for that if she intended to die in jail?
Ultimately, there are a lot of unanswered questions. The most disturbing part about this story is that the Waller County Jail, where Sandra was jailed, has been having a suicide epidemic, so to speak. The Daily Kos reported that the last person to die by hanging was also jailed for "assaulting an officer." This is just the beginning though, as the Waller County sheriff was fired from his previous police chief job for racism allegations against him.
Thus, the facts are stacked against the Waller County police department. It is also worth noting that Bland was active in the Black Lives Matter movement, and frequently spoke out against racism and injustice. Just like the other victims of police violence the movement has spotlighted, Bland's only crime seems to be being black in America. Bland's family is demanding answers and justice, while several petitions have shown up on the Internet doing the same, and urging the US Department of Justice to take control of the case.
Hopefully, we will get some answers about Bland's death. We must stop accepting the corrupt system, which allows deaths like these to be brushed off as suicides without evidence. It is clear that the corruption does not stop with the police, but bleeds into our entire society. We must demand #JusticeForSandy. Take to the streets. Say her name because #BlackWomenMatter.
Nikki Camera will be a sophomore in the Liberal Studies Program at New York University. She plans to major in comparative literature and minor in creative writing. Along with writing, she is a passionate activist and considers herself a revolutionary.