Sandra Bland … Cheated of Life … And Cheated in Death

by JoanMar – Sandra Bland was on her way to her new job at her alma mater in Texas when she was racially profiled, brutalized, and then thrown in jail. This was the stop where the cop threatened to “light you up” for her daring to question him about his abusive, intimidating behavior. Sandra was found dead in her cell three days after that horrendous example of over-policing and power-tripping. Sandra’s family agreed to a settlement of $1.9M but also managed to exact a promise that a bill, to be named in her honor, would be introduced in the Texas Legislature to address the systemic issues which led to her murder. Bland family attorney Cannon Lambert said all parties have agreed to terms including a $1.9 million payout to the family  — $1.8 million from Waller County and $100,000 from DPS — and changes in jailing and law enforcement practices that could have statewide implications....

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Texas Cop Says He Was Threatened For Trying To Tell The Truth About Sandra Bland

by ALAN PYKE – Over a year after Sandra Bland died in police custody, an officer involved in the case is giving the world a glimpse into how the “blue wall of silence” works inside the law enforcement industry. Prairie View, TX, police officer Michael Kelley says that a local prosecutor and police officials suppressed facts about Bland’s initial arrest while investigating Brian Encinia, the man who actually cuffed and booked Bland. Encinia was eventually charged, but only with perjury — a decision that sparked further outrage. Kelley got to the scene too late to see exactly what happened between Encinia and Bland during the key moments off a dash-cam video where the two are out of frame and Bland says he’s knocked her head against the pavement. But Encinia said he didn’t know what he was arresting Bland for but would come up with something, Kelley says. “She had...

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Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Are Dead

by KAI WRIGHT – Why do seemingly routine encounters with police too often escalate and lead to death? Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are dead, joining a long roll call of black people killed by officials acting in the name of public safety. And so the nation now begins a process so familiar as to have become rote. Many of us will want desperately to know more about these men’s lives, not merely their deaths. After each of the many executions we have collectively mourned, I have grasped for those kinds of details — some reminder that black lives do actually matter, to somebody. Alton Sterling seems like he was a nice guy. He clearly had a friend in Abdullah Muflahi, who owned the food mart where he sold CDs and DVDs in the parking lot. Sandra Sterling, the aunt who raised him, says he was gregarious, perhaps self-consciously so. He...

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Sandra Bland Lawsuit Update

by AZcentrist – Sandra Bland was pulled over by a Texas state trooper, told to put out her cigarette, and then tazed and arrested. She died a few days later in jail custody. The legal wrangling has begun and the case is under way. Prior story here. Here’s an update. Lawyers for Trooper Encinia and the other Texas state defendants filed a motion to dismiss on September 8, 2015. Such a motion, if granted, would result in complete dismissal of the case. Lawyers for the family of Sandra Bland filed their opposition brief on September 24, 2015. We can expect a ruling from the court within 1 to 2 months. The briefing from both sides is not exactly a testament to quality legal writing. Both the motion and the response brief contain sloppy editing, antiquated style, and uncreative writing in general. The government’s motion contains this apostrophe-plural disaster, for example: Plaintiffs’...

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Emmett, Trayvon, Freddie, and Sandra

by Terrance Heath – Sixty years after Emmett Till was killed for daring to assert his humanity, African Americans are still being killed for doing the same. Charles M. Blow hears echoes of Emmett Till’s killing in the cycle so often repeated in the news today: “Young lives are lost, the body itself is desecrated or neglected, killers are acquitted or not even brought to trial, and the effects of the feelings of terror and injustice galvanize a generation of young people who have taken as much as they plan to take.” Till was murdered for flirting with and whistling at a white woman, things that could get a black man killed in the Deep South in 1955. The 14-year-old, sent to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi, was warned of as much by his mother Mamie Bradley, who told him “to be very careful… to humble himself to the extent of...

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Clear Warning Signs

by Marc Morial – We don’t yet know how Sandra Bland died, but the video of her arrest is cause enough for grave concern For many people of color, it was with a sickening sense of familiarity that we watched the video of yet another routine traffic stop that would come to a tragic end. Two days before authorities discovered Sandra Bland’s lifeless body in her Texas jail cell, the 28-year-old called a friend after her first court appearance and left a 22-second voicemail. “How did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this?” she wondered. “I don’t even know.” The details of Bland’s arrest and her untimely death have left her family, her friends, and all those concerned about the treatment of people of color in our nation’s criminal justice system wondering the same. State trooper Brian Encinia pulled Bland over by for a minor traffic violation on Friday, July 10. As...

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Lawsuit Blames State Police and Local Jail for Sandra Bland’s Death

by Jacob Sullum – Bland’s mother says “she never should have been inside of a jail.” Sandra Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, filed a federal lawsuit against the Texas trooper who arrested Bland on July 10 and two employees of the jail where she was found dead three days later. The complaint, which also names Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) as defendants, claims that Trooper Brian Encinia violated Bland’s constitutional rights by arresting her under false pretenses and that two screening officers at the Waller County Jail, Elsa Magnus and Oscar Prudente, failed to adequately monitor her. Reed-Veal argues that the state and county share responsibility for the actions and omissions of their employees because they did not properly train and supervise them. Although Encinia charged Bland with assaulting him, which was the official reason she ended up in jail, the complaint says it was the other way around....

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Across the US, Activists Shine Light On Sandra Bland’s Mysterious Death

by Ashoka Jegroo – 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 death and accountability for the officers who are responsible,” said Gan Golan, co-founder of the NYC Light Brigade and 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...

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DOJ Head Says Sandra Bland’s Death Epitomizes Police’s Broken Relationship With Black Community

by LAUREN C. WILLIAMS – Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Sandra Bland’s death while in police custody earlier this month taps into deep-seated fears within the black community: that interactions with law enforcement too frequently end fatally. The Justice Department’s (DOJ) first African-American woman attorney general told Pierre Thomas in an ABC News interview Sunday that Bland’s death “highlights the concern of many in the black community that a routine stop for many members of the black community is not handled with the same professionalism and courtesy that other people may get from the police.” Bland’s death was officially reported as a suicide but is being treated like a homicide investigation. But there’s much public speculation around the 28-year-old’s arrest, death, and its subsequent investigation. Bland was held for three days by the Texas Department of Public Safety for a routine traffic stop — allegedly for not using a signal...

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The Assassination of Sandra Bland and the Struggle Against State Repression

by Ajamu Baraka – During the struggle in South Africa black activists who were captured by the state had a strange habit of jumping to their deaths from the windows of jails and court houses whenever the authorities would turn their backs. In the U.S. the method of suicide black prisoners appear to choose is death by hanging, that is when they are unable to pull a gun from an officer and shoot themselves in the chest while handcuffed behind their backs. In Waller County, Texas, Sandra Bland, a young black woman from Illinois, an activist with black lives matter, who was, according to friends and family, excited about her new job in Texas is stopped for a minor traffic, beaten, jailed and found dead two days later in her cell. Her death labeled a suicide by the Waller County Sheriff Glen Smith. Because Sandra Bland was an activist who advised...

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Anonymous Publishes Video, Documents Implicating Cops In Sandra Bland Death (VIDEO)

by RANDA MORRIS – On July 24, the hacker collective known as Anonymous published a string of documents, along with a YouTube video, implicating Waller County, Texas police in the death of Sandra Bland. The video and documents raise important questions about the death of the 28-year-old #BlackLivesMatter activist. In the video, which is just over seven minutes long, Anonymous points out many of the reasons that the official story, that Sandra Bland killed herself inside a Hampstead, Texas jail, is just not believable. The video begins by citing the fact that officials claim: “Sandra Bland, a woman of almost six feet in height, hung from a five-feet wall partition.” From there, the video goes on to question claims about the role that marijuana supposedly played in Bland’s death, since there is absolutely no scientific evidence to suggest that smoking pot causes people to kill themselves. On the contrary, if Bland was suffering from Post...

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Fox News Host Suggests That Cop Felt Threatened By Sandra Bland’s Cigarette

By WES WILLIAMS, Addicting Info – Everyone who has looked at the dashcam video of the Sandra Bland traffic stop in Texas agrees that the officer involved stepped over the line when he removed Bland from her vehicle and threatened to use his taser on her. Well, almost everyone. Hello, Fox News. On the July 27 edition of Fox and Friends, host Elisabeth Hasselbeck revisits the video, along with an expert on police, former NYPD officer John Rafferty. Hasselbeck and Rafferty look at several segments of the dashcam video. The first segment shows Officer Brian Encinia approaching Bland’s vehicle and explaining why he had pulled her over. Rafferty tells Hasselbeck that at that point, everything looks like a normal traffic stop. Then they go back for part two of the video, which shows Encinia commenting to Bland that she appears to be irritated. Rafferty explains that the best thing to do is to...

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What The Supreme Court Has To Say About Sandra Bland’s Arrest

by IAN MILLHISER – Newly released video of Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia arresting Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found dead in her jail cell three days later, shows the officer rapidly escalating a minor argument over a cigarette into a forcible arrest. Shortly after Encinia brings Bland a warning citation for changing lanes without signaling, he asks her to extinguish her cigarette. When Bland declines to do so, the officer opens her door and tries to physically remove her from her car. He eventually draws what appears to be a stun gun and screams at Bland that he will “light you up” if she does not exit the vehicle. Just a few minutes later, Bland is in handcuffs and off camera. When Encinia instructs her to “wait right here,” she informs him that she “can’t go nowhere with a fucking knee on my back.” After watching...

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Sandra Bland Becomes The Latest Victim Of The ‘Marijuana Smear’

by IAN MILLHISER – Sandra Bland was high on marijuana — while she was incarcerated in the Texas jail where she eventually died — according to Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis. Mathis reportedly said in a text message to an attorney representing the Bland family that “ooking at the autopsy results and toxicology, it appears she swallowed a large quantity of marijuana or smoked it in the jail.” If true, this allegation suggests that security in this jail facility is extraordinarily lax. How does marijuana make its way to an incarcerated individual in the first place? And how does that individual manage to smoke or eat a “large quantity” of it without jail officials noticing? The allegation that Bland used pot shortly before her death, moreover, fits a pattern in high-profile cases involving the questionable death of a black man or woman who has become so common that it...

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Sandra Bland’s Death To Be Investigated As A Murder

By SHANNON ARGUETA, Addicting Info – A week ago, 28-year-old Sandra Bland was found dead in her Waller County, Texas jail cell, three days after being arrested for “assaulting” a police officer. When authorities ruled it a suicide her family and friends immediately spoke up, saying there was no way Sandra would kill herself when she was so excited about a new chapter in her life. On Monday, just after dashcam footage of her arrest became public, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis, announced that Sandra’s death would be investigated as a homicide. Mathis made the announcement at a press conference, he said there are “too many questions” about what happened. According to Reuters: “This is being treated like a murder investigation,” Mathis said. He added that officials would examine fingerprints and run DNA tests on the plastic trash bag used in her hanging. Despite the right-wing’s belief that all liberals hate the police, we...

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Facing Down Taser, Sandra Bland Was Told By Officer: “I Will Light You Up!”

by Jon Queally – Betraying arrest report, newly released footage shows how arresting officer violently escalated traffic stop by threatening unarmed black woman with Taser While many questions still remain about what exactly happened to Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell before she was found dead under mysterious circumstances on July 13, those looking for answers about why she was initially placed under arrest three days earlier were offered a look at devastating dash-cam footage released by the Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday evening which showed the arresting officer, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia, actively escalating a situation with violence and threatening the unarmed black woman with a Taser. The manner in which the escalation occurred led law enforcement officials to say that Encinia had not followed department procedures and failed to “maintain professionalism” during the arrest. In one shocking moment, the officer,  tells Bland that if she...

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FBI Joins Investigation Into ‘Unfathomable’ Death of Sandra Bland

by Nadia Prupis – Calls for justice by family and friends of black woman who died in Texas jail echoed by activists on social media The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Friday announced it was joining the probe into the disturbing death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman who died in police custody in Texas on Monday. An investigation was launched on Wednesday by the Texas Rangers, a branch of the state’s Department of Public Safety, after a campaign spread demanding answers about the young woman’s death under the hashtag #WhatHappenedToSandraBland. Bland, who had just moved to Texas from Naperville, Illinois for a new job at her alma mater of Prairie View A&M University, was arrested July 10 for an alleged assault on an officer during a traffic stop and detained in Waller County Jail. After three days behind bars, Bland was dead in her cell. Authorities said her...

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