Sandra Bland photo

Americans are once again faced with the real “reality show” of life in regards to what happens when you are a person of color, male or female, and are arrested by a racist police officer.

  On July 10, 2015 Sandra Bland, a twenty-eight year old African American woman from Illinois was pulled over while driving her car, in the southern state of Texas, and arrested. We’re not able to see the actual “take-down” and physical arrest from the troopers’ dash cam because the State Trooper conveniently moved Ms. Bland out of the vision of the camera. The only reason we know what happened, outside of the vivid verbal description given “blow by blow” from Ms. Bland on the dash cam, is due to the brave witness who documented the troopers’ abuse on video and posted it on social media for the world to see. The last words we hear Ms. Bland say to this person is “Thank you for taping this, thank you.” Words I’m sure that person will never forget.

 The thing that sticks with me the most was the way Ms. Bland keep taunting the State Trooper, cursing in anger, voice raised. The way the Trooper keeps taunting Ms. Bland, raising his voice in anger, pulling her out of her car. The way the both of them were angry at each other and how the situation escalated so quickly and out of control over a minor traffic violation. I heard the fear that must have been going through Blands’ mind as she was handcuffed and thrown to the ground, helpless, with the only weapon at her disposable being her voice. She had a right to remain silent and I’m glad she didn’t take it because three days later she was found dead in her jail cell and if we hadn’t heard her voice describing in great detail what was happening to her during her arrest on July 10, the Waller County Sheriff’s Departments’ report of “suicide by hanging” may have very well went unchallenged by the general public.
  Ms. Sandra Bland was known on social media sites as a Black Lives Matter activist who frequently posted her thoughts and views on racism in America and how “Being a Black person in America is very, very hard.” She sent a tweet on April 8th, 2015 in all capital letters that said “AT FIRST THEY USED A NOOSE, NOW ALL THEY DO IS SHOOT #BlackLiveMatter #SandySpeaks.”
  As a Black Lives Matter activist myself, it brings to mind the thought that there may now be a new goal of law enforcements to “shut up” these voices that now have the ability to reach thousands of people with the “click” of a post. Could the message they are sending to us be “we not only shoot Black people but will still hang you if you bring that talk to the South”. When the police run your plates now will it come up “Social Media Black Activist?” Is there a count of how many of us, no matter what our race, use social media sites to spread the word that racism is still alive and well in America? Is this a clear threat to Black Lives Matter activists to “keep your mouth shut?” Who will be the next victim of a “suspicious” death while in police custody?

  There is no real accurate number of how many people in America are killed by law enforcement officers because the police departments haven’t been regulated to do so until President Obama signed the renewal of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act in December 2014. This act was created to monitor deaths in prisons and jails but also mandates that the Justice Department count arrest-related deaths as well. In past reports many states were inconsistent in the data they provided in regards to the number of deaths of prisoners while in their custody, so don’t think for one minute that the signing of this act will ensure accuracy in the number of deaths reported, let alone, the truth in regards to how the deaths occurred.

  If you are arrested you have the right to keep your mouth shut, just like Sandra Bland had that right, but if you open it make it count.