It seems that Waller County officials are trying to cover up Sandra Bland’s tragic death:
- District Attorney Elton Mathis has not filed any criminal charges against Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia despite a video that shows him violently attacking and wrongfully arresting Sandra. Officer Encinia also falsified his police reports.1
- DA Mathis and Sheriff Glenn Smith have failed to provide Sandra’s family with key documents concerning her death, choosing instead to manipulate the press by leaking selective information.2
- There are clear discrepancies between jail documents leaked to the public and those on record.3
- Both DA Mathis and Sheriff Glenn Smith have refused to step off the case despite a long histories of racism and corruption.4
ACT: This Thursday, we are delivering more than 500,000 voices to the Department of Justice demanding justice for Sandra Bland. Add your voice day today.
Our only shot at knowing what happened to Sandra and holding those responsible accountable is for the Department of Justice to intervene. Yesterday, after growing public pressure, Attorney General Loretta Lynch acknowledged Sandra’s death, but fell short of launching an independent investigation.5 Now is the time to ramp up our pressure and calls for justice. It’s the Department of Justice’s job to prosecute cases of systemic abuse and civil rights violations targeting Black communities.
Attorney General Lynch will only take action if enough people refuse to be silent and demand her leadership. Raise your voice today.
Thanks and peace,
1. “Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death,” Democracy Now! 07-28-15
2. “Sandra Bland’s Sister Responds to Suicide Allegations, Lawyer Says Waller County Withholding Details,” Democracy Now! 07-24-15
3. “Sandra Bland’s Autopsy Report Called into Question,” Vanity Fair 07-23-15
4. See Reference 1
5. “U.S. AG Loretta Lynch Speaking Out About Sandra Bland’s Death,” ABC 13 07-28-15
6. See Reference 1
“You just slammed my head to the ground. Do you not even care about that?”
These were some of the last words of 28-year-old Sandra Bland. On Friday, Texas State troopers pulled Sandra over as she was driving to her new job for allegedly not using the turn signals during a lane change.1 What happened next was all too familiar and terrifying.
An eye-witness says police ripped Sandra out of the car, violently slammed her on the ground, and arrested her as she screamed for help. Just 72 two hours later, she was dead.2 Police are claiming Sandra took her own life, but her family and friends don’t believe it. Local District Attorney Elton Mathis has already said he has no reason to expect foul play and handed over the investigation to the same police agency that arrested Sandra.
Police cannot police themselves. Urge Attorney General Lynch to thoroughly investigate Sandra’s death and hold all those responsible fully accountable.
DA Mathis said there was no reason for concern, despite the fact that an allegedly routine traffic stopped turned into a violent arrest is itself a cause for concern.3 Sandra’s family says that Sandra would never kill herself and that police seem to be covering up her death.4 We must demand that local officials release all video, information and photographs relating to Sandra’s unjust arrest, imprisonment and death.
The local police department and prosecutor’s office have a long history of racism and corruption. Last year, DA Mathis threatened a local Reverend who spoke out about racist prosecutions, saying he would release his “hounds” on the Reverend.5 Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith was fired from the police department in Hempstead, Texas for documented cases of racism.5
According to her loved ones, Sandra Bland was a loving, compassionate woman, with a bright future ahead.6 Today would have been the first day at her new job working student outreach at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. Loved ones described her as bright, spirited, and having a thirst for life. She was also a vocal advocate against police brutality and often spoke about ending racism and police violence. Our hearts and minds are with her friends and family as they move through this unimaginably hard time.
But in a world where Black people are stereotyped as “violent” and police exist to enforce the boundaries of a deeply divided and racist society, who Sandy was or the life she was creating, did not matter. What mattered is that she was Black, and therefore, in the eyes of the law, she didn’t deserve respect, didn’t deserve her civil rights, her freedom, or her life. To be Black in America, is to be safe nowhere. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to be targeted by police and incarcerated than white women.7
The Department of Justice and Attorney General Lynch have the power and responsibility to address the systemic police violence targeting Black communities. The reality is, racism, corruption and a deep-seated culture of secrecy prevents local and state police from holding themselves accountable. Without independent oversight, police will continue to kill and prosecutors will continue to do nothing. We should not have to demand justice, every time a Black person is murdered, but we will continue to do so until the justice system respects Black lives.
Urge US Attorney General Loretta Lynch to secure justice for Sandy and help end discriminatory police violence targeting Black people in Texas.
Thanks and peace,
— Rashad, Arisha, Shani, Lyla and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
July 28th, 2015
1. “Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead in Jail?”, 07-16-15
2. “Family says woman found dead in jail cell would not kill herself; Texas Rangers investigating”, 07-16-15
3. See reference 2.
4. See reference 2.
5. “Pastor says Waller DA threatened him”, 06-03-14
6. “The Texas Sheriff Where Sandra Bland Died Was Previously Suspended for Racism”, 07-16-15
7. “Incarcerated Women”, The Sentencing Project 08-2015