The Twittersphere is going crazy over the latest loss of yet another black life in America allegedly at the brutal hands of the police.
Sandra Bland, a 28 year-old activist, was stopped and treated in an unnecessary manner by an over-zealous (to say the least) police man on 10 July 2015. This information is fact, is on record and has been admitted.
As if the unfair treatment that involved threats wasn’t enough, (a punishment that would leave a bitter taste in any persons mouth no matter their colour but also a punishment that we know wouldn’t be handed out had she been white) it is the events that unfolded in the days after Sandra’s arrest that have left people sickened to the core.
Sandra Bland died in police custody three days after her arrest.
The ‘official’ cause of death is suicide by hanging. Yes, suicide by hanging. This begs the first question: what would Sandra have to hang herself with in a police cell where it is standard procedure to take away any items that could be used to cause harm?
Naturally, Twitter and other forms of social media are sharing and commenting on the release of Sandra’s mug shot as well as questioning pretty much everything surrounding Sandra’s undoubtedly suspicious death.
The main speculation is that Sandra was already dead at the time her mug shot was taken. The theories are out there for everyone to see, so this article won’t go in to them. Instead, we question WHY yet another black person has lost their life thanks to the authorities?
Regardless of whether Sandra’s death was suicide or homicide or if anything untoward has gone on, the question remains, why are people dying in police custody or because of an individual police officer?
This year alone, there have been several high-profile incidences of police-civilian altercations and hundreds that never made it to mainstream media. How much effect is a hashtag having? Does more need to be done? Do #BlackLivesMatter? No matter how often we #SayHerName are we going to be heard?
In a first instance the answer is essentially no. But that can and has to be changed. Black people need to be taught from the beginning of their education about their civil rights and laws surrounding routine procedures such as stop and search. They need to be taught how to deal with the very real life situations such as being targeted for the colour of their skin. They need to be taught about equality, acceptance and individuality.
Telling young black boys that there’s a chance they’ll be mistreated simply because they will one day become young black men is no longer enough. The McKinney incident in March proved that your gender holds no relevance if you are black. If you are black an officer will have no problem putting all of his weight on your bikini-clad body, pinning you down with his knee in your back, leaving you fearing for your life just because you claimed your innocence.
Sandra knew her rights; she knew that she was being wronged and yet still met an untimely death. Is being wary and aware the only choice black people now have? With even the President of the United States publicly speaking on the prevalence of institutionalised racism and closer to home here in England police brutality and racism going hand in hand with our politicians, footballers and even royalty being openly racist and receiving little reprimand, it seems as if the problem is going to get worse before it ever gets better.
As Sandra asked, “how did switching lanes with no signal turn into all of this?”
The official cause of Sandra’s death may be suicide by hanging but it is unlikely the world will ever really know #WhatHappenedToSandraBland on the day State Trooper Brian T. Encinia took set against her or what was going through her mind during the days that followed.
What we need to work on now is ways of ensuring nothing like this ever happens again.
TNT News – Talking Point