Sandra Bland was the young woman from Illinois who was racially profiled by Texas police, harassed, beaten, arrested and found dead in a cell. However, she was not the only Black woman recently found dead while imprisoned. Just like with an unlawful traffic stop and killing of a Black person, we are learning the code words and actions and know that when an arrest occurs a death is likely to follow.
In the racial profiling of a Black person you will hear the officer say to another cop, “He or she tried to run over me. He or she went for a gun. He or she kicked me. I felt threatened for my life. Why do they act like that? He or she tried to take my gun or tazer.” In addition, the guilty cop will ask for confirmation and support for lying from fellow officers with words such as, “Did you see she kicked me or went for my gun.” In the case of a murder in jail the jailers or coroner will say, “She died of drugs. She was depressed. She had a history of mental illness. She had prior arrests or problems.”
Black women are often arrested and killed as a result of a race profiled traffic stop or profiled and followed in a store such as CVS who makes it clear that if you are Black you will be followed (ABC News). If you are a Black female, you are followed and most likely to be accused of shoplifting, arrested and die in jail.
Of course this is not new, the murder of Black women and their children who have been imprisoned by authorities have occurred for centuries such as; Laura Nelson and her son L.D. Nelson who were kidnapped from their cells and hung in 1911 over the Canadian Bridge in Okemah, Oklahoma. Alisha Thomas died in 2012 when she was beaten, choked and kicked after being handcuffed. She died in the back of the police car in LAPD custody. After killing Alisha Thomas by choking and kicking her Officer O’Callahan smokes a cigarette and says,” I had a good time” as she passes the dash cam on the police car (fusion.net). Treshon Cousin, died in July 2013 after being arrested in Tammany Parish, Louisiana. Sandra Bland, died July 2015 in Waller County, Texas. Raynetta Turner died July 2015, was allegedly found dead in a cell in Mt. Vernon, New York after being arrested and imprisoned for two days waiting arraignment. Kindra Chapman died July 2015, was allegedly found dead in a cell in Birmingham, Alabama after her arrest. Joyce Curnell died July 2015, was allegedly found dead in a cell in Charleston County, South Carolina the day after she was arrested. Ralkina Jones died July 2015, was allegedly found dead in a cell in Cleveland, Ohio the day after she was arrested. Unfortunately these are just a few of the many Black women who have lost their lives to a racist justice system.
Just as Black mothers must have the talk with their sons about being arrested and murdered for being Black, the talk also must be with daughters. The daughters must know not to fear the streets of the ghettos but to fear the law enforcement officers who are motivated by power and racial hate. Black women must fear for their freedom and lives while driving, shopping, conducting normal everyday activities or driving to their dream job.