on december 21, the grand jury said it will bring no charges in the death of black lives matter activist sandra bland. she died in jail last july, three days after a traffic stop in waller county, texas. two videos of the stop went viral. the medical examiner said she hanged herself with a trash bag.
her family doubts it was suicide. jail officials did not think she was depressed, even after she told them she tried to take her life last year after a miscarriage. they did not put her on suicide watch.
"in prisons, it is not at all uncommon to find a prisoner hanged or burned to death in his cell. no matter how suspicious the circumstances, these deaths are always ruled "suicides." they are usually black inmates, considered to be a "threat to the orderly running of the prison." they are usually among the most politically aware and socially conscious inmates in the prison." - assata shakur.
the u.s. department of homeland security (dhs) admits they keep an eye on black matter lives through the internet for "situational awareness purposes" to ensure that critical information reaches appropriate decision-makers in federal, state, local, tribal and territorial governments," but denies it keeps files on anyone in the movement.
the fbi behaved similarly with the black power movement in the 60's and 70's under cointelpro.
the grand jury heard nine hours of evidence. the hearing was in secret, there was no judge present, and no lawyer to question the evidence and witnesses presented by the prosecutor. these dynamics are common with grand juries.
the grand jury decision was presumably based mainly on the autopsy. yet, that same autopsy says bland had high levels of marijuana in her blood - levels so high she would have had to have smoked marijuana in jail.
the grand jury will meet again in january to decide "other issues." one such issue is whether the arresting officer, brian encinia, broke any laws during the traffic stop. encinia, a white male, is currently on paid leave.
the bland family has brought a wrongful-death civil lawsuit against the following: encinia, jail officers elsa magnus and oscar prudente, the sheriff's office, the texas department of public safety, and waller county.
there are key parts of the autopsy which are missing, and this has profoundly impacted their own independent autopsy. sadly enough, the bland family does not have the report on bland's arrest or her death. after the grand jury meeting in january, they hope more answers will be forthcoming.
- mark j. tuggle
- harlem, usa
- same-gender-loving contemporary descendant of enslaved africans. community activist, feminist, health educator, independent filmmaker, mentor, playwright, poet & spiritual being. featured at, in & on africana.com, afrikan poetry theatre, angel herald, bejata dot com, bet tonight with tavis smiley, blacklight online, black noir, brooklyn moon cafe, gmhc's barbershop, klmo-fm, lgbt community services center, longmoor productions, nuyorican poets cafe, our corner, poz, pulse, rolling out new york, rush arts gallery, saint veronica's church, schomburg center for research in black culture, sexplorations, the citizen, the new york times, the soundz bar, the trenton times, the village voice, upn news, uzuri, venus, vibe, wbai-fm, wnyc-fm & wqht-fm. volunteered with adodi, bailey house, inc., black men's xchange-new york, colorofchange.org, drug policy alliance, east harlem tutorial program, imagenation film & music festival, presente.org, save darfur coalition, the enough project, the osborne association, the sledge group & your black world. worked on films with maurice jamal & heather murphy. writing student of phil bertelsen & ed bullins. firstname.lastname@example.org.