Since the arrest of Sandra Bland began with brutality and follows a distributing trend, police don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
It started with an all-too-familiar scene that Black people in particular have come to fear: a “routine”(traffic) stop and questioning initiated by a police officer.
It escalated to all-too-familiar height: excessive force used by a police officer.
And it ended in an all-too-familiar narrative: Black person dead after petty encounter with a police officer.
These generic, yet sad descriptions can be used, with minor augmentation, to detail the final moments of 26 year-old Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown of Philadelphia, 25 year-old Mr. Freddie Gray of Baltimore, and now 28 year-old Ms. Sandra Bland of Illinois who died Monday in police custody 50 miles outside of Houston, Texas, after being pulled over on Friday for improperly signaling a lane change.
Police are claiming Ms. Bland committed suicide, and her family, friends and the larger community are pushing back, saying they don’t believe the police’s side of the story and want an independent investigation.
Beyond the fact that Ms. Bland was mentally strong thus making her incapable of suicide, implies her family, the young activist had just landed at new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, which is why she was driving from Illinois to Texas.
Despite these truths presented by Ms. Bland’s loved ones, the district attorney says there no information to suggest foul play and an autopsy found her cause of death to be suicide by hanging.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Texas Rangers will be conducting an investigation.
Like most cases where there’s an ambiguous death in police custody, the public doesn’t want the arresting police department involved. And this is especially true in Ms. Bland’s case, as the Waller County Sheriff, Mr. Glenn Smith, was fired from his previous job as police chief in Hempstead, Texas, after allegations of racism surfaced.
Even if Ms. Bland did commit suicide, the decades of unmitigated police violence and the ensuing cover-ups has left the majority of the American public without even a glimmer of trust in law enforcement.
The distrust of law enforcement is not a people problem; it’s a institutional problem, and one that only the institutions of government can solve.
The public doesn’t need to be more patient, the institutions of government need to be more responsive. The public doesn’t need to embrace calm, institutions of government, when investigating and prosecuting police misconduct and brutality, need to act with urgency. The public doesn’t need to be less cynical; the institutions of government need to appear more transparent and trustworthy.
Trust is earned, not demanded, and in this moment the distrust of officials’ word surrounding the death of Ms. Bland is warranted and welcomed.
*Tune into 900amWURD or 900amWURD.com every Friday evening during the 6 o’clock hour to hear me relive #TheWeekThatWas*
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™