The CBS affiliate WHOU, broadcasting since 1953 in the Houston area, announced yesterday that there would be a demonstration of support for Sandra Bland, as Prairie View students are invited to join with family and friends in a “Walk of Solidarity;” and over 500,00 signed petitions have now been presented, calling for a calling for Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Dept. of Justice to conduct and independent investigation; with another 250.000 which now have been gathered for this purpose as well, at change.org. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) and Rep. Bill Foster — who each spoke briefly from the podium at the private funeral service in Ms. Bland’s hometown in suburban Chicago on July 25th — had already written letters requesting this themselves according to NBC 5 News in Chicago.
The family, friends, activists, and other supporters of Sandra Bland — and of everyone’s Civil Rights generally — have been tenacious in continuing to call attention to the major issues surrounding her death: as to whether racial discrimination may have been involved in her arrest; and whether any foul play was involved in her death.
In part, Senator Durbin writes:
“Ms. Bland’s family, her community, and all of those troubled by the disturbing series of events in this case deserve answers, In light of the many concerns regarding Ms. Bland’s arrest and incarceration, and the uncertainty surrounding Ms. Bland’s tragic death, I urge the Department of Justice to fully and thoroughly investigate this case.”
There is interest nationally — and perhaps internationally — in the details surrounding the death of Ms. Bland, who was found dead in her cell on 13 July, in a detention facility under the purview of the Waller County Sheriff’s Office, just three days following her arrest for assaulting a Texas state trooper, who had pulled her over for failing to signal a lane change, for which he had written a warning — and which he had attempted to show her, but had been unable to do, once the incident escalated. Brian Encinia, the 30-year-old Officer, was placed on desk duty, pending further investigation.
Officials have taken the evidence of her suicide at face value — e.g., the troublesome interaction with the Officer (evidently Ms. Bland noticibly did not look at the Officer as he spoke to her, prompting his asking of her within the first 10 seconds of their dialogue: “What’s wrong?”) as well as her self-report to one of the employees at the detention facility that she had a history of a prior suicide attempt in the recent past; the evidence of multiple cuts on her forearm, some of which were more recent than others; as well as the particular circumstances of her death itself, and other factors. It is very upsetting for family and friends — and even for those who didn’t know Ms. Bland — to sort through these issues, although one of the persons who addressed the public at the funeral service noted that in some way, Sandra’s voice speaks here as well, harkening to the truth that is revealed through closely examining these painful details.
The members of Sandra Bland’s family and those who had the pleasure to have known her, have expressed strong feelings to the contrary, in considering the prospect of her taking her own life, since that aspect of reality — if it is so — stood in contrast to the individual they have known, and there is great concern that they have not yet been given access to the full details of these events, especially taking into account the escalation of the seemingly minor violation’s leading to charges warranting her arrest — the full nature of which have only partially been made public on video recording and other documents — as well as their personal knowledge for some time, of this 28-year-old ‘Black-Lives-Matter’ activist who had recently contributed to a website for the advancement of women, and who they had reason to believe was looking forward to starting a new job at her alma mater. Sandra Bland was a 2009 graduate of Prairie View A&M, in Agriculture.
The Associated Press (AP) reported the conclusion on Thursday, that the untimely death of Sandra Bland had been the impetus for the launch of a review of jail safety in the state of Texas: This, too, would seem to be a milestone.
“Republican Lt. Dan Patrick did not say Bland’s name while announcing that legislative hearings on jail suicides would begin in September. He said a new Senate committee is not focused on any one death, and when the question of whether Bland’s relatives would be involved was raised, noted that the family had recently filed a lawsuit.”
Students will be departing from the Memorial Student Center on the Prairie View A&M campus and then proceeding south for one mile on University Drive, to the Prairie View City Hall, gathering at 4:27 p.m., on Wednesday, August 25. The city council is to meet at that location at 6:00 p.m., and the first item on council’s agenda will be a proposal to rename the main thoroughfare which leads to the grounds of Prairie View A&M University — as a dedication — to be known thereafter as “Sandy Bland Parkway.”