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August 2, 2015 | by  | in The Week In Feminism |
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What happened to Sandra Bland?

Sandra Bland is a 24-year-old African American activist who passed away on 13 July while being held in a Texas jail. She was a part of the Black Lives Matter movement and posted videos about civil rights in America under the title “Sandy Speaks”.

There is a lot of suspicion regarding her death and it is currently being treated as a possible murder by the Waller County District Attorney. There is a dark cloud over the whole case. Bland never should have been taken to the county jail to begin with, let alone kept in a cell for three days following her arrest. She was pulled over by Texas state trooper Brian Encinia for failure to indicate. There is dashcam footage of the whole thing from his vehicle, although some people believe a chunk of it has been edited out, which looks entirely possible from watching the footage. After Encinia pulls her over and asks for her license and registration—to which she complies quickly but with frustration—he then asks her to put out her cigarette. Legally, she doesn’t have to do this as she is in her own car. But he pushes it and pushes it and then asks her to step out of the car. He says “I will light you up”, as he pulls out his taser and then wrestles her out of the car.

For the next couple of minutes you can hear her struggling and crying out of the camera shot as Encinia supposedly cuffs her and successfully detains her. At no point does he tell her why he is arresting her.

Three days after this arrest, Bland was found dead in her cell. The footage from the ninety minutes leading up to the jailer finding her hasn’t been released or does not exist. An autopsy conducted by the Harris County Institute of Forensics classified her death as a suicide by asphyxiation, but her family is waiting to hear from an independent autopsy. The attorney representing the Bland family said that he received a text from the Assistant District Attorney telling him to tell her family that the first autopsy was “defective”. This just adds to the confusion and suspicion that those close to her feel. Her family and friends say that it’s unlikely she killed herself as she had recently expressed excitement about starting a new job. In the dashcam footage she also stated that she planned to take her arresting officer to court in the future.

It is impossible to watch the dashcam footage and not be left with a bad taste in your mouth. It is impossible to hear about this case and not feel an underlying sense that there is something unequivocally wrong about what happened to Sandra Bland.

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