No Indictments In Death Of Sandra Bland
On Monday, December 21st, a Texas grand jury decided against an indictment in the death of Sandra Bland, who died on July 10th in a jail cell. Bland, a black woman, was jailed for failing to use her turn signal. She was 28 years old.
The grand jury will reconvene in January, to decide whether to indict people on other, non-death related charges. As of press time, the grand jury says that no one from the Waller County Jail, where Bland died, will be charged. “After reviewing all the evidence in the death of Sandra Bland, a Waller grand jury did not return an indictment in the death of Bland, nor were any indictments returned against any employee of the Waller County Jail,” said special prosecutor Darrell Jordan. Officials from the jail have maintained that Bland hung herself with a plastic bag, but her family has contested the account since the summer, saying that Sandra had no history of mental illness.
The arrest (filmed on dashcam video) and subsequent death of Sandra Bland was surrounded by controversy from the beginning. There was even a horrific rumor that Bland was already dead by the time her mugshot was taken, leading the Waller County Jail to release a video depicting her last days. Bland’s family still asserts that she did not commit suicide. “Right now, the biggest problem for me is the entire process,” said Geneva Read-Veal, Sandra’s mother. “I simply can’t have faith in a system that’s not inclusive of my family that’s supposed to have the investigation.”
Bland was one of many African-Americans who experienced excessive force at the hands of the police just this year. Her’s was perhaps the highest-profile case involving a woman. It lead to the #SayHerName hashtag campaign, founded by the African American Policy Forum, which was designed to draw attention to incidents of violence against black women. It was huge. As Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, co-founder of the AAPF, and a professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, told Mic, “This year has been about making visible the ways black women-identified people have been subjected to state violence and other forms of violence — institutional and personal. Visibility is the precondition for any form of accountability.”
Crenshaw continued. “#SayHerName is the first step. What does it mean that her name has been said? Progress is basically a way of saying we’ve gain some traction, but traction is just the footholds needed to take the next steps. We will see more people in our movements say the name of women, but will they actually take the step to interrogate how patriarchy and heteronormativity shape their conceptions of anti-racism?”
Sen. Bernie Sanders also commented on the Sandra Bland case. “There’s no doubt in my mind that she, like too many African-Americans who die in police custody, would be alive today if she were a white woman,” he said. “We need to reform a very broken criminal justice system.”
Learn more about the AAPF here.
Image via The Daily Dot