By Andrea Ritchie for Rewire - Bias against Black mothers, perceptions of people in mental health crisis, and policing of poverty may have all played a role in the fatal shooting of the 30-year-old pregnant Seattle woman. In the midst of a weekend of nationwide protests demanding accountability for the police shooting of Philando Castile in front of his partner and her child, two Seattle police officers responded Sunday to a call for help from Charleena Lyles, a 30-year-old Black mother of four. She was reporting a burglary. What happened next weaves together several strands of a deadly web of police violence against Black women—including police perceptions of Black mothers and Black women in mental health crisis, police responses to domestic violence, and policing of poverty. Once the officers arrived at the apartment complex where she lived, Lyles can be heard on audio recorded by the officers’ dashboard camera. She let the officers into her apartment building and calmly and rationally answered their questions. She said that someone broke into her house while she was at the store, told the officers that she had no idea who it was, and described what was taken. The sounds of children are audible in the background. Suddenly, the officers begin shouting, “Get back! Get back!” One officer calmly suggests using a Taser...
By Mariame Kaba for In These Times - The fact that Rekia Boyd’s name might be familiar to you is a testament to her family and local Chicago activists’ persistent and effective organizing. Today marks four years since detective Dante Servin killed Rekia in the North Lawndale neighborhood. She was unarmed and hanging out with friends when Servin shot her in the head. He was off-duty and carrying an unregistered gun at the time. Servin is the very rare police officer who was actually tried for the extrajudicial killing of an unarmed Black person.
By Andrea J. Ritchie in Truth Out - While what happened to Sandra Bland was extraordinary in some respects, it was commonplace in many. A day after Bland's death, another Black woman, 18-year-old Kindra Chapman, was found dead in police custody. A total of five cases of Black women dying in police custody, including Bland and Chapman, surfaced the same month. They were preceded by many more, including Sheneque Proctor, Kyam Livingston and Natasha McKenna. The cause of death varies - apparent suicide, failure to provide necessary medical attention, violence at the hands of police officers - but ultimately, no matter the circumstances, these women's deaths are also a product of the policing practices that landed them in police custody in the first place: racial profiling, policing of poverty, and police responses to mental illness and domestic violence that frame Black women as deserving of punishment rather than protection, of neglect rather than nurturing.
By David Lohr in The Huffington Post - The family of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman found dead in a Texas jail cell after a controversial arrest, announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against officials in Houston on Tuesday. "We are looking for the individuals involved in this situation to take accountability," Cannon Lambert, the Bland family attorney, told reporters at a press conference in Chicago. Lambert said the lawsuit has been filed against state trooper Brian Encinia and all officials involved in the arrest and incarceration of Bland. The action, Lambert said, was prompted by "inconsistencies" in the investigation into Bland's death and the unwillingness of authorities in Waller County, Texas, to share information with the Bland family. "[We have been] unable to get many of the answers we have been asking for," the attorney said. "This family needs an answer to the principle question: What happened to Sandra Bland?"
By Ashoka Jegroo in Waging NonViolence - In cities across the United States on July 29, the name of Sandra Bland, a woman whose mysterious death in police custody recently made headlines, could be seen bringing light to dark city nights. The demonstrations were part of a nationwide action to remember Bland and bring attention to her death. Additionally, a petition by the nonprofit activist organization UltraViolet is soon to be delivered to the Department Of Justice and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, seeking a federal investigation into Bland’s death. “There is going to be a massive petition tomorrow delivered to the Department of Justice demanding an investigation into [Sandra Bland’s] death and accountability for the officers who are responsible,” said Gan Golan, co-founder of the NYC Light Brigade and member of People’s Climate Arts.
By Ultra Violet - Last Friday, 28 year-old Sandra Bland was driving to her new job in Waller County, TX when she was pulled over for switching lanes without a signal--a routine violation that usually ends with a ticket. But instead, officers slammed her head into the ground and arrested her. Three days later, she died in police custody. This is one of the most outrageous cases of police abuse we've seen yet. There is video showing the officer slamming Sandra to the ground as she pleads for them to stop. And the local sheriff, who claimed Sandra killed herself, was fired in a different city for multiple counts of racist and violent conduct. That's why we can't leave an investigation into Sandra's suspicious death in the hands of local officials.
By Richard Ward in Counter Punch - Sandra Bland was a rebel in the classic sense, as Albert Camus defined it: “What is a rebel? A woman who says no, but whose refusal does not imply a renunciation. She is also a woman who says yes, from the moment she makes her first gesture of rebellion. A slave who has taken orders all her life suddenly decides that she cannot obey some new command. What does she mean by saying “no”? “She means, for example, that ‘this has been going on for too long,’ or ‘up to this point yes, beyond it no,’ ‘you are going too far,’ or, again, ‘there is a limit beyond which you shall not go.’ In other words, her no affirms the existence of a borderline.” Sandra Bland had reached her borderline before her life was snuffed in Waller County by racist, vicious agents of the state.
By Zachary Norris in Truth Out - As a member of Black Lives Matter Bay Area, I attended last weekend's Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland, Ohio, and witnessed a whole new generation of us following. We are refusing compliance. While I was in Ohio, the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the organization of which I am the executive director, hosted a vigil and speak out for Sandra Bland back in Oakland. Black women claimed the space and expressed their rage over what happened to Sandra, the many injustices they have experienced at the hands of the state, and the need for revolutionary change. We are not asking for entrance or acceptance into this order of things. We see a Black president presiding over the country, and the killings haven't stopped. We know the president has his own "kill list." In a country such as this one, the simple demand that Black lives matter has always been a demand for a whole new order of things.
By Kelly Hayes in Truthout - This week, from Dallas to San Diego to the Midwest, activists and community members around the United States are answering a national call to demand justice for Sandra Bland, a Black woman and activist who died in police custody on July 13. In Chicago, protesters lifted up Sandra Bland's name on Michigan Avenue on July 28, as hundreds of protesters lined a bridge over the Chicago River, urging those who believe Black lives matter to "say her name." While a great deal of public discourse has focused on whether or not Sandra Bland committed suicide, or died as a result of police brutality, participants in Tuesday night's event carried a broader message - that the system was responsible for Sandra Bland's death regardless of the specifics of her death. In the words of organizer Mariame Kaba, "I don't care about the CSI version of how she died. The system killed her. The rest is superfluous."
By Kirsten West Savali in The Root - As I watched 28-year-old Sandra Bland assert her humanity by refusing to roll over and play slave for white Officer Brian Encinia, who had grown increasingly agitated by that refusal, the words of Zora Neale Hurston rang in my head through the numbness: “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” On July 10, Bland was ready. If she was to die, if she was to feel the blows of brutality on her brown skin, no one would be able to say that she enjoyed it. Some may say that Bland foreshadowed her own death in Texas. Her Facebook cover photo—highlighting the hypocrisy of state-sanctioned anti-black terrorism—shows a caricature of Dylann Roof eating the Burger King burger his arresting officers bought him after he was captured for murdering nine people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
By NewsOne Staff - With screams of “Take them off!” Black Lives Matter activists refused to disperse until police released a 14-year-old boy who was arrested with no apparent cause. The boy was allegedly thrown to the ground and pepper spray was used all because he was suspected of breaking open container laws. According to witnesses, he was carrying a Snapple. Hundreds of Black freedom fighters from around the country will come together for the inaugural Movement for Black Lives Convening in Cleveland, OH, from Friday July 24 to Sunday July 26th, 2015. This historic event comes at a pivotal time for the growing movement for Black lives in the United States. Black people are facing unabated police violence, increasing criminalization, a failed economic system, a broken education system and the loss of our communities to gentrification and development.
By Sonali Kolhatkar in Truthdig - On July 24, The Movement for Black Lives National Convening will bring bringing together activists from all over the United States, organizing under the banner of Black Lives Matter. The organization will meet in Cleveland. Among those activists will be such prominent leaders as Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, the original founders of Black Lives Matter. Also present will be hundreds of members and local chapter leaders like 28-year-old Jasmine Richards, a powerful activist in Pasadena, Calif., where I live. Pasadena is typical of most midsized cities in the United States. It boasts a major university, a handful of art museums, cosmopolitan restaurants, hipster coffee shops and a popular sports arena. But bisecting the city is a major freeway with a rough but stark demographic divide. On one side live relatively wealthy and middle-class whites, while on the other side, poor black and brown folks struggle to get by.
By Scott Heins in Gothamist - For the second time in less than a week, protests against police brutality and racial injustice led to a flurry of arrests in the middle of 34th Street. According to an NYPD spokesman, 12 demonstrators were arrested over the course of the evening, all of them charged with disorderly conduct. While last Friday's protests and arrests came during a march to commemorate the death of Eric Garner, "Justice for Sandra Bland!" was the rallying cry at last night's protest. Bland, a 28-year-old black woman active in social justice movements, died last week in a Texas jail after being arrested during a traffic stop. Authorities claim Bland committed suicide while in her jail cell, but many are disputing this official account and an investigation is currently underway.
By Scout Finch in Daily Kos - The probe into the jail cell death of Sandra Bland will be treated as thoroughly "as it would be in a murder investigation," a Texas district attorney said Monday. "There are many questions being raised about this case," Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said during an evening news conference. "It needs a thorough and exhaustive review." Yet, Waller County Sheriff's Office Captain of Patrol Brian Cantrell said at the same press conference that Bland's July 12 death inside a Waller County Jail was already ruled a suicide. "I want to make clear that the death of Ms. Bland was a tragic incident — not one of criminal intent or a criminal act," Cantrell said. Cantrell claimed Bland, 28, strangled herself with a jail cell trash bag, but her family has disputed the very notion that she would kill herself. They have asked for an independent autopsy.