Day 2 - Last Words: Sandra Bland

Day 2 - Last Words: Sandra Bland

"How did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this?" - Sandra Bland, 1987-2015

The afternoon of July 10, 2015, Sandra Bland was stopped by officer Brian Encinia on University Drive in Prairie View, TX for failure to signal a lane change. After illegally asking Bland to put out her cigarette, which she refused, and ordering her to exit the car, Encinia pointed a taser at Bland and shouted, "I will light you up! Get out, now!" Bland was arrested and taken to Waller County Jail. Police stated that at 6:30a.m. on July 13, Bland refused breakfast and at 9:07a.m. a jailer discovered her hanging in her cell. 

An autopsy conducted by the Harris County Institute for Forensic Science classified Bland's death as a suicide. In July 2016 the Houston Chronicle reported that, according to the lawyer for Sandra Bland's mother, a former Waller County Jail guard said under oath that he falsified entries on the jail log, indicating he checked on Bland in the hour before she was found dead when he did not. A grand jury decided not to indict anyone associated with Bland's death at Waller County Jail. The arresting officer was placed on administrative leave for failure to follow proper traffic stop procedures, and he was later dismissed following indictment for perjury. 

In September 2016 Waller County agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the relatives of Sandra Bland. Her last known words are taken from a voicemail recording left for a friend on July 11, 2015 shortly after her initial court appearance. 

Sources: New York Times, Houston Chronicle

FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
Report of: JAMES D. BRODY
Date: DEC 11 1963
Character: SECURITY MATTER – C

IV. STATEMENTS ATTRIBUTED TO JAMES BALDWIN
The June 3, 1963 issue of “The New York Times” contained another article on the subject in which he stated: “It was in Paris that I realized what my problem was. I was ashamed of being a Negro. I finally realized that I would remain what I was to the end of my time and lost my shame. I awoke from my nightmare.”

To the FBI of 1963, a black body without shame was considered a threat to the state - "Security Matter - C." We could say the same for Sandra Bland in 2015. When she refused to extinguish her cigarette, which she was not legally obligated to do, the officer threatened to "light her up." A black woman without shame, who knows her rights, who will not acquiesce to reckless white power, is considered a threat to the state that must be identified, intimidated, documented, and imprisoned.

God, you are the original artist: the creator and sculptor and perfector of every body. Yet, the moment I look at my body and say, “It is good,” I become a living weapon. Is it a crime to lose my shame? Is it a sin to thank you for the way you have created me?

Lord, free us from being ashamed of ourselves.
Lord, free us from fear of others.
Lord, free us to praise you for your creation.
Amen.

 

 

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