sandra bland
Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell at the Waller County Jail in Houston, Texas, just days after she was detained by police during a routine traffic stop for failing to signal.
Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell at the Waller County Jail in Houston, Texas, just days after she was detained by police during a routine traffic stop for failing to signal.
Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell at the Waller County Jail in Houston, Texas, just days after she was detained by police during a routine traffic stop for failing to signal.

The Sandra Bland case is tragically another case of Black Lives Don’t Matter.

A dashboard camera video of the arrest which was released Tuesday shows how a routine traffic stop escalated to Bland’s being dragged from her car and arrested, three days before she was found hanging in her jail cell.

Waller County, Tex., officials released the video on July 21.   While the action moves off-camera, the audio is crystal clear.  It includes vulgar language.

Everything points to the case of an “uppity negro gal” defying the “right” of a police officer to treat her with less than the respect she was due.

The officer says she seems irritated.  She says yes, she is, but that she understood that he was going to give her a ticket anyway.

The officer then tells her to put her cigarette out.  She refuses, saying she’s in her car and that her smoking had nothing to do with him issuing her a ticket.

So the officer tells her to get out of her car, and she refuses, for the same reason.  And then, it’s on.  He threatens to tase her and drags her out of the car, saying all he was going to do was give her a warning.   So, why didn’t he– just give her the warning and send her on her way?

Some officers– not all, mind you– are actually offended when a black man or woman dares to act as though they are actually entitled to the same respect and treatment that a similarly situated white person would be entitled to receive.

The arresting officer in Bland’s case would be hard-pressed to argue that the cigarette was any kind of weapon, so demanding that she put it out was unnecessary, except as a way of exerting his authority and dominance over her.  That’s not a black-white thing, though.  It’s a power thing.  Black officers do it, too.

Some officers (once again, some and not all) simply cannot see themselves on the same level of person-hood as a black man or woman.  Even black officers have been known to treat black “offenders” differently than they treat white offenders.  So, the very same statement or question that comes from a black person is instantly met with hostility.  (The old “who-do-you-think-you-are?” mentality.)

“I don’t have to put my cigarette out because I’m in my car” was a response that defied the officer’s absolute authority over her, and he couldn’t handle it, although all the years of my seeing and experiencing police-citizen interactions has me absolutely convinced that if Bland had been white, he would have never demanded that she put her cigarette out.

Bland could have simply put her cigarette out, true.  She could have gotten out of the car when the officer asked, and maybe things would have ended right there, but Bland clearly saw herself as being wrongfully treated– I know that because she repeatedly told him so.  It seemed to be for Bland a kind of “Rosa Parks moment,” where she just refused to comply.  (No disrespect to the civil rights movement intended.)  And that refusal led to her make the mistake I believe caused her to lose her life.  She threatened over and over to see the office in court.

From a practical standpoint, Bland was intentionally put into a jail cell all by herself.  That made it easy for anything to happen to her without witnesses.  She had called her family several times asking for help in covering her $5,000 bail.  She told them she thought her shoulder or arm was broken, and they were working on getting her released.About 9 a.m. on Monday July 13, a guard went to her cell to see if she wanted to get some exercise, and saw her hanging, with a plastic trash can liner around her neck.  And the threat of a probably successful lawsuit was extinguished with her.

No word on where the trash can liner came from– you generally don’t find trash cans inside jail cells– but the medical examiner ruled her death a suicide.   Suicide?  An investigation has been launched.  Somebody needs to be fired, and somebody else needs to go to jail.

#Black Live Do Matter.