Sandra Bland. (Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)
“On July 9, soon after Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, moved to Texas from Naperville, Illinois, to take a new job as a college outreach officer at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over by the police for failing to signal while making a lane change. What followed has become all too common and illustrates the ever-increasing rise in domestic terrorism in the United States. She was pulled out of the car by the police for allegedly becoming combative, and was pinned to the ground by two officers. A video obtained by ABC 7 of Bland’s arrest “doesn’t appear to show Bland being combative with officers but does show two officers on top of Bland.”
A witness reported that “he saw the arresting officer pull Bland out of the car, throw her to the ground and put his knee on her neck while he arrested her.” In the video, Bland can be heard questioning the officers’ methods of restraint. She says: “You just slammed my head to the ground. Do you not even care about that that? I can’t even hear.” She was then arrested for assaulting an officer, a third-degree felony, and interned at the Waller County, Texas, jail. On July 13, she was found dead in her cell. Quite unbelievably, the police reported that she took her own life, and the Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide.
Friends and family say that this scenario is inconceivable, given what they know about Sandra: She was a young woman starting a new job, who was eagerly looking forward to her future.
Sandra Bland was an outspoken civil rights activist critical of police brutality. She often posted videos in which she talked about important civil rights issues, and once stated: “I’m here to change history. If we want a change we can really truly make it happen.”
Sandra Bland’s family and friends believe that foul play was involved in her death, and rightly so. Their belief is bolstered by the fact that the head sheriff of Waller County, Glenn Smith, who made the first public comments about Bland’s in-custody death, was suspended for documented cases of racism when he was chief of police in Hempstead, Texas, in 2007. After serving his suspension, more complaints of racism came in, and Smith was actually fired as chief of police in Hempstead.”Bland’s death over a routine traffic stop is beyond monstrous. It is indicative of a country where extreme violence is the norm – a society fed by the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, the incarceration state, the drug wars and the increasing militarization of everything, including the war on Black youth. There is more at stake here than the fact that, as federal statistics indicate, the police are “31 percent more likely to pull over a Black driver than a white driver” : Routine traffic stops for Black drivers contain the real possibility of turning deadly. This regular violence propels a deeply racist and militarized society. It is a violence that turns on young people and adults alike who are considered disposable. This type of harassment is integral to a form of domestic terrorism in which Black people are routinely beaten, arrested, incarcerated and too often killed. This is the new totalitarianism of the boot-in-your-face racism, one in which the punishing state is the central institution for both controlling poor people of color and enforcing the rules of the financial elite. How much longer can this war on youth go on?
…How many more young people are going to be killed for walking in the street, failing to signal a lane shift, looking a police officer in the eye, or playing with a toy gun? How many more names of Black men, women and young people will join the list of those whose deaths have sparked widespread protests: Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Renisha McBride, Aiyana Jones and Sakia Gunn, among many others – and now, Sandra Bland. Is it any wonder that one funeral director in Chicago stated that “young people in the city do not expect to live late into their adult life”? Moreover, police violence in the United States is not only a direct manifestation of state violence, but also serves as a gateway to prison, especially for people of color and the poor.
…The form that the “war on terror” has taken at home is a war on poor people of color, especially Black people. Racism and police militarization have created a new kind of terrorism, one in which extreme violence is being used against Black people for the most trivial of infractions. The killing of Black youth by the police – a norm that stretches back, in an unbroken line of terror, to slavery – takes the form of both routine affair and spectacle….In a country in which militarism is viewed as an ideal and the police and soldiers are treated like heroes, violence becomes the primary modality for solving problems. One consequence is that state violence is either ignored, rendered trivial or shamelessly legitimated in the name of the law, security or self-defense. State violence fueled by the merging of the war on terror, the militarization of all aspects of society, and a deep-seated, ruthless and unapologetic racism is now ubiquitous and should be labeled as a form of domestic terrorism. Terrorism, torture and state violence are no longer simply part of our history; they have become the nervous system of an increasingly authoritarian state. Eric Garner told the police as he was being choked to death that he could not breathe. His words also apply to democracy itself, which is lacking the civic oxygen that gives it life. The United States is a place where democracy cannot breathe.”
Here is the complete article with footnotes at Truthout: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/31945-the-racist-killing-fields-in-the-us-the-death-of-sandra-bland#
Here are more resources where you can read the rest of the story:
at Daily Kos HERE. Giroux’s website HERE.]
Henry A. Giroux
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and the Paulo Freire Chair in Critical Pedagogy at The McMaster Institute for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching & Learning. He also is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ryerson University.
His most recent books include Youth in Revolt: Reclaiming a Democratic Future (Paradigm 2013), America’s Educational Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013), Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014), The Violence of Organized Forgetting: Thinking Beyond America’s Disimagination Machine (City Lights, 2014), Zombie Politics in the Age of Casino Capitalism, 2nd edition (Peter Lang 2014), Disposable Futures: The Seduction of Violence in the Age of the Spectacle, co-authored with Brad Evans, (City Lights Books 2015), Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Paradigm Publisher 2015). The Toronto Star named Henry Giroux one of the 12 Canadians changing the way we think! Giroux is also a member of Truthout’s Board of Directors.
His website is: http://www.henryagiroux.com.
New Video Shows Aggressive Arrest of Sandra Bland Prior to Her Death in a Texas Jail
The county prosecutor says the 28-year-old black woman’s case is “being treated just as it would be a murder investigation.”
On Tuesday, Texas officials released a police dash cam video showing the July 10 arrest of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman from Illinois who died three days later in a Waller County jail cell, in a case ruled a suicide by local authorities. The footage shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia aggressively confronting Bland after pulling her over for a traffic infraction and ordering her out of her car. “I’m going to drag you out of here,” he says, reaching into Bland’s vehicle. He then pulls out what appears to be a taser, points it at her and yells “I will light you up!” After Bland emerges, they walk out of the frame where the argument continues and Encinia eventually forces Bland to the ground violently as she continues to protest the arrest. (The confrontation can be heard on the police footage, and was already seen widely since late last week, after a different video recorded by a bystander appeared online.)
By Tuesday night, questions were swirling on social media about what appeared to be glitches in, or possibly edits to the dash cam video; a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety told the Guardian that he did not have an immediate explanation for the inconsistencies.
The subsequent death of Bland has continued to raise troubling questions since she was found hanged on the morning of July 13. A medical examiner report and the county sheriff’s office ruled her death a suicide, but during the three days Bland spent in jail, Bland’s family members said they spoke to her on the phone about posting bail, and that a suicide seemed “unfathomable.” An hour before she was found, Bland had asked to use the phone again, county officials said.
The Texas Rangers are currently leading the investigation into Bland’s death, with the FBI overseeing the process. The family’s attorney has also asked the US Department of Justice to open a federal investigation. Mathis said he will take the case to a grand jury, which is expected to be impaneled in August.
Bland’s death, which comes amid heightened public scrutiny over race and policing in America, is the latest episode in Waller County’s long history of racial strife. For family and friends, news of Bland’s death was sudden and unexpected, and it has raised questions about potential foul play, conditions at the jail, and the circumstances that led to her arrest. Bland herself often spoke out about police brutality, as chronicled in videos she posted on her Facebook page.
On the day she was jailed, Bland had been driving to to start a new job in Prairie View, Texas, where she had attended a historically black college. She was pulled over by Encinia for an improper lane change. The Department of Public Safety said Bland had been uncooperative and that she kicked Encinia, according to the Houston Chronicle. A bystander’s video capturing the arrest shows Bland being held down on the ground by an officer, shouting, “You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!”
Here is the Mother Jones Article:
More on Sandra Bland’s death —
Texas sheriff involved in the death of Sandra Bland fired from previous post for racism
Sandra Bland died in police custody this past Monday. Visiting Texas from Chicago to interview for a college job at her alma materdailykos.com
Update on the Sandra Bland Murder:
Nobody is held accountable for the death of Sandra Bland:
And we all lose!
Cannon Lambert, a lawyer for the Bland family, called the grand jury proceedings a “sham of a process,” and that family members first learned there was no indictment through news reports.
“We would like very much to know what in the heck they’re doing, who they’re targeting and if it has anything to do with Sandy and her circumstances,” Lambert told The New York Times Monday night.
The Bland family in August filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Encinia and two guards at the Waller County jail; the trial is scheduled for January 2017.
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