Sandra Bland’s family and friends are getting the investigation they want. The FBI will now look into the 28-year-old woman’s death, officially recorded as a suicide, as video of her violent arrest emerged online.
Sandra was an Illinois native, college graduate, civil rights advocate, and was days away from starting a new job at the county’s Cooperative Extension — and moving to what’s considered a highly racist Texas county — when she was booked into a Waller County jail following a traffic stop on July 10, the New York Times reported.
Three days after she was jailed, her unconscious body was found in her cell only a couple hours after breakfast. On paper, officials contend that Bland hung herself with a garbage bag, the Houston Chronicle reported. The cause of death was listed as asphyxiation, self-inflicted; CPR was attempted but failed.
“Based on the Sandy I knew, that’s unfathomable to me,” her sister, Sharon Cooper, told ABC News.
Now, the Texas Rangers and FBI will look more closely at the circumstances behind Bland’s death.
Ironically, Sandra often spoke out against police brutality against black people from Baltimore, Cleveland, and Ferguson, frequently posting photos and videos on Facebook. She talked about her own experiences and the reality of racism in the daily lives of African Americans.
#SandraBland noted that we must use social media as a means of being heard. She understood that silence does not lead to justice.— deray mckesson (@deray) July 16, 2015
Her most recent video was posted in April.
“Black lives matter. They matter. In the news that we’ve seen as of late, you could stand there, surrender to the cops, and still be killed.”
In another, she said that “being a black person in America is very, very hard.”
Watch more of her videos here.
The FBI will now look into the circumstances surrounding her arrest, incarceration, and mysterious death.
A video of her arrest is circulating online, in which Bland is seen on the ground with an officer standing above her; she had been pulled over for a traffic violation, and the arresting officer said Bland kicked him. She was then charged with assaulting an officer.
The police dehumanized #SandraBland even before he slammed her to the ground. His viewing her as "combative" dehumanized her.— zellie (@zellieimani) July 17, 2015
We forget stories quickly, esp. when they involve Black women and girls. Please do not take your eyes off #SandraBland.— jamilah (@JamilahLemieux) July 17, 2015
But in the footage, Sandra can be heard complaining about excessive force.
“You just slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that? I can’t even hear!… You slammed me into the ground and everything.”
Sister Shante Needham said Sandra told her the officer had placed his knee in her back and had possibly broken her arm, the Guardian added. Later in the jail, a security video shot outside Bland’s cell shows no one going in or out before Sandra was found unconscious, ABC News added.
And the FBI will also have to take into consideration some online videos in which Sandra admits to suffering from depression, the most recent filmed just this spring.
“I want you guys to know it’s a daily struggle. It’s a daily test. Depression is nothing but the devil. It’s a way of mind and it’s a way of thinking.”
Her family remains convinced, however, that Bland did not commit suicide. They are headed to Texas to meet with FBI and Texas Rangers.
“To know Sandy was to love her,” Cooper added. “It is unimaginable and difficult for us to wrap our minds around.”
[Photo Courtesy Twitter]