And the King shall answer and say unto them, verily I say unto you, inasmuch as yet have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40
Sandra Bland’s body has been returned to her home town of Chicago for her funeral on Saturday. It is not lost on me that she died after being held in a lonely Texas jail for 3 days and nights. It is not lost on me that yesterday a Waller County, Texas prosecutor gave an impromptu press conference to malign Sandra Bland by saying that marijuana was found in her system and that marijuana was a “mind altering drug.”
We all know the story of what happened to Sandra Bland. She was stopped on a lonely stretch of Texas highway after arriving in Texas from Chicago to take a job. She was driving alone. She called her mother and expressed how excited she was that she made it to Texas to start a new job. Her voice message ended with “I love you mom, Bye.” What we know happened is that she was pulled over by a cop for an “illegal lane change.” She told the officer that she was waiting for him “to do his job” by writing her a ticket or to do whatever he was going to do. The officer decided to “go rogue” and question her attitude. She responded that she was not happy with being pulled over when she did it because he was following her and she was getting out of his way. I did not hear an “attitude” I heard a woman telling the truth. She did not curse the officer, she did not talk in a loud voice, she did not spit on the officer, she did not pull a weapon on the officer. She was simply driving while black in Waller County, Texas. The officer was not satisfied with her responses so he told her to put out her cigarette. She questioned why since she was in her car. When a person is nervous smoking a cigarette is the best thing to do for a smoker. It helps to calm the nerves. This stupid officer did not understand why Sandra Bland, driving alone, from Chicago, on a desolate Texas highway, needed a cigarette more than ever after he stopped her for something trivial. But this jackass of a cop escalated the matter to repeated orders to “get out of the car.” He threatened her with a taser saying “I will light you up.” The dash cam then showed a compliant Sandra Bland stepping out of her car, both hands upwards. She did not push the car door against the cop, she did not brush against the officer, she did not spit on the officer, she did not curse the officer. She got of her car, wearing a nice long dress and high heels. She walked to the rear of the car and then out of range of the dash cam. Then only God knows what happened to her—what this jackass cop did to her as he uttered those “cop cover your ass words” “stop resisting.” What we do know is that this cop then inflicted violence on Sandra, throwing her to the ground, hitting her head against the ground, putting his knee in her back, and God only knows what else he did to her.
The rest of Sandra Bland’s arrest and transport to the jail is a mystery. I want to know the following. How many officers responded to “assist” the officer who pulled her over? How long did they keep her by the side of the road before they put her in a car for transport to jail? What else did they do to her, or say to her, while they had her alone to themselves? Most importantly how far, how many miles, was it from where Sandra was taken into custody to the jail where she was booked? This is a woman who had just arrived from Chicago to take a job in Texas and she finds herself not only pulled over on a lonely stretch of Texas highway, but snatched out of her car, thrown to the ground, kneed in the back, put in hand cuffs in the back of a car, manhandled and driven to a jail in the back of a squad car like a common criminal. All this violence and mistreatment for not putting out a cigarette inside her car. How was she treated by the officers who transported her? Along the way to the jail, what did they say and do to her? How was she removed from the car and taken inside the jail—a woman wearing a long dress and high heel shoes. What exactly was she arrested for that made sense to her? And so inside her jail cell, alone, far from home, unable to contact relatives, victimized by strangers in a strange land—falsely imprisoned, alone in a jail cell for 3 days, Sandra Bland died. And now her character is being maligned with innuendo about “marijuana in her system.” She is being crucified even after her death.
Remember Trayvon Martin? Remember the character assignation that Mark O’Mara, Zimmerman’s lawyer, pulled by leaking the word that Trayvon Martin had traces of marijuana in his backpack? That marijuana thang again? Remember how Trayvon was portrayed as a “thug?” Remember how George Zimmerman walked free for a cold blooded murder because of the way Trayvon Martin was characterized? Blaming the victim is the oldest game in the book for prosecutors and yesterday the same “blame and malign the victim,” script began to unfold with Sandra Bland. Why would there be a press conference for all the world to hear that Sandra had “marijuana in her system?” Why would this lowly, not a doctor, prosecutor say that marijuana was a “mind altering drug? Mind altering in what way? Some people completely “chill out” and become calm and serene after smoking marijuana. Ask a bunch of Colorado marijuana smokers about this “mind altering drug” comment. Does this prosecutor know that marijuana affects different people in different ways? Did he care? Or was he “sent” to save Waller County a bunch of money by scandalize and crucifying Sandra Bland to “taint a potential jury pool” by maligning her character before the whole world by suggesting that Sandra’s death was her own fault? We know this game, we’ve seen it untold time after time with black folks who are arrested. Something always has to be done to portray us in a bad light to justify violence and injustice. And it is being done to Sandra Bland. It is rank crucifixion. It is more of the same old dirty, low down, blame the victim tactics that are used on African Americans over and over again.
“O Lord, how long shall I cry and thou will not hear! Even cry out to thee of violence and thou wilt not save!” Habakkuk 1: 2
“And they cried with a loud voice saying, how long, O Lord, holy and true, will you not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” Revelation 6:10
Copyright 2015 – L. Arthalia Cravin. All rights Reserved. No part of this commentary may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.