Another person of colour dies mysteriously in the hands of the American ‘justice’ system, and no one is charged
Due to the many recent deaths of black men and women in America, it seems that being black in this country is a crime. The recent and tragic death of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman, who was pulled over by an officer in Texas for allegedly not signalling correctly and for allegedly resisting arrest and assaulting an officer, is another example that supports this argument. Bland was found dead in police custody three days after her unlawful arrest. Despite a recent autopsy which stated that she died of self-inflicted asphyxiation (another way of saying that she committed suicide), her unexpected and unexplainable death has captured the attention of the world, with controversy surrounding her mugshot. Black Americans are screaming injustice, police brutality and racism.
A police video capturing the altercation between Sandra Bland and the arresting officer, Brian Encinia, has been newly released. In the video we see the arresting officer pulling her over. The victim, Ms Bland, expresses (rightfully) her frustration at being pulled over for no apparent reason: ‘I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me, so I move over and you stop me’. In the footage the victim was irritated, yes, but not aggressive. The arresting officer then asks the victim to put out her cigarette whereby the victim refuses on the grounds that she is in her vehicle and still does not understand nor know the reason as to why she is being pulled over. Because of refusing to put out her cigarette, the officer then orders the victim to step out of her car, again, Ms Bland refuses declaring to the arresting officer, ‘No, you do not have the right to do that’, to which he replies, ‘I do have the right’. The officer at this point appears frustrated and angrily shouts that he will ‘yank’, ‘drag’ and ‘light her up’. The victim finally steps out of her car and on numerous occasions is heard asking the arresting officer why she is being arrested? A question which the arresting officer Brian Encinia fails to answer.
What should have been a simple warning of a minor traffic violation quickly spiralled into a forceful and, based on the video footage, violent arrest whereby Sandra Bland can be heard screaming, ‘you slammed my head into the ground’.
Furthermore, the mugshot released of Ms Bland, has created even more controversy especially on Twitter where some are claiming that Ms Bland was on the ground and possibly already dead when the mugshot was taken. This assumption is due to the positioning of her dreadlocks, the fact that her cell had tanned walls but her mugshot background is grey and, notably, her unfocused eyes and lifeless facial expression. Clearly answers are needed.
The question that is on everyone’s mind is what really happened to Sandra Bland and did she truly commit suicide? From the video footage, Bland clearly stated that she will be taking the police officer to court and that she knew her rights. She was strong-spirited and did not sound like a woman who was considering taking her own life. At the age of 28, Sandra had a lot to live for, especially after securing a job at her previous university. Her life was stolen by those who were supposed to protect her. Let us never forget this wretched injustice. #SayHerName.
These questionable altercations have occurred way too many times in America and a lot of the time, the charge of the crime is simple: being black. Blacks in America have always been negatively stereotyped and negatively labelled. We do not want to make this a war between Blacks and Whites because both Black and White Americans are outraged and disgusted; however, we still cannot dismiss or deny that sadly, it is Black Americans vs White cops and that black lives are being overlooked and failed by the American justice system. Despite human rights laws, America continues to fail Black Americans and automatically demonises them as violent criminals. When will it stop?
Unarmed: Black people killed by the Police:
- 2012, Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, is acquitted for his crime
- April 30, 2014 – Dontre Hamilton, 31, was fatally shot 14 times by a police officer in a Milwaukee park. Police officer Christopher Manney was not charged.
- July 17, 2014 – Eric Garner, 43, was killed after he was placed in an illegal chokehold for 15 seconds by a white police officer — allegedly for selling loose cigarettes. Garner said ‘I can’t breathe’, 11 times as he was held down by several officers on a sidewalk. The officer, Daniel Pantaleo, was not charged.
- August 5, 2014 – John Crawford, 22, unarmed was shot and killed by a police officer; the two officers, Sean Williams and David Darkow were not charged.
- August 9, 2014 – Michael Brown Jr. (Ferguson, Missouri). Unarmed Michael Brown, 18, was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson – this led to the violent protests. Police officer Wilson was not charge.
- August 11, 2014 – Ezell Ford (Florence, California), Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally ill man, was shot three times, including once in the back, by a white police officer. He was unarmed. So far, no charges have been filed against Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, the two officers involved.
- August 12, 2014 – Dante Parker, 36-year-old father of five, died in police custody after being repeatedly stunned by a Taser in San Bernardino County. No charges made.
- November 13, 2014 – Tanisha Anderson, 37, died after officers in Cleveland allegedly slammed her head on the pavement while taking her into custody. No charges have been filed against the officers involved.
- November 20, 2014 – Akai Gurley. Akai Gurley, 28, was shot and killed by a police officer while walking in a dimly lit New York City public housing stairwell with his girlfriend. Gurley, who was unarmed, was pronounced dead at a hospital. New York Police Department Commissioner, Bill Bratton, called the shooting an ‘accidental discharge’. The officer, rookie Peter Liang, was charged with second-degree manslaughter.
- November 22, 2014 – Tamir Rice, 12, was shot and killed by Cleveland police after officers mistook his toy gun for a real weapon. The two police officers involved, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, have not been charged.
- December 2, 2014 – Rumain Brisbon, 34, was shot and killed by a Phoenix police officer who mistook a pill bottle for a weapon. The officer, Mark Rine, was not charged.
- December 30, 2014 – Jerame Reid. Jerame Reid, 36, was shot and killed by police officers in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He was a passenger in a car driven by his friend, who was pulled over by police. Braheme Days and Roger Worley were placed on administrative leave with pay for the ensuing investigation, which remains ongoing.
- March 6, 2015 – Tony Robinson, unarmed. Tony Robinson, 19, was shot and killed by a Madison police officer who was responding to reports of someone disrupting traffic. Investigation remains ongoing.
- March 31, 2015 – Phillip White, 32, died while in police custody in Vineland, New Jersey. Officers involved have not been charged
- April 2, 2015 – Eric Harris, 44, was shot and killed by a 73-year-old reserve deputy officer who allegedly mistook his own gun for a Taser. The officer, Robert Bates, was charged with manslaughter.
- April 4, 2015 Walter Scott, was shot by a police officer while running away from a traffic stop for a broken taillight. Officer was charged with murder.
- April 19, Freddie Gray, 25, died of a spinal cord injury a week after he was arrested by Baltimore police
- July 14, 2015 – Kindra Chapman, 18, was found dead in her cell in Texas. Like Sandra Bland, authorities have blamed Chapman’s death on suicide by hanging.
By Marsha Thompson