Sandra Bland was driving through Texas to begin a new job when, on July 10th, she was pulled over during a routine traffic stop by police officer Brian Encinia. The officer ordered Bland to put out her cigarette, then ordered her out of her car, then ordered her to put down her phone, then tried to pull her out of her car, then threatened her with a stun gun, then violently handcuffed her, and then arrested her for assault. Three days later, Bland was found dead, hanging in her cell. While jail personnel claim the death was suicide, it’s hard to understand why a woman who had just received a new job and had contacted a bail bondsman hours before would kill herself. On December 21st, a grand jury failed to indict the Texas County Jail where Bland died in her death.
Bland should never have been arrested. She would not have been arrested had she been a white woman. She would not have been arrested if she had not been badgered, threatened, and harrassed. She would not have been arrested if she had been pulled over by a police officer who followed procedure, regardless of race. In itself, Bland’s arrest is a horrific injustice that is all too common across the United States for people of color.
That Encinia, the police offer who verbally and physically threatened Bland and turned a routine traffic stop into a fully escalated situation, is on paid desk duty, not on trial for police misconduct is yet another horrific injustice. That no one was held accountable for Bland’s death this Monday is a third.
Bland’s death is a tragedy and the loss of the life of a young, educated women with a bright future. Our hearts go out to Bland’s family and friends who denied justice and closure this Monday. We cannot imagine your loss and the trauma of loss compounded with injustice after injustice.
Our hearts also go out to all whose lives are affected by our nation’s brutal, racist, and unfettered criminal “justice” system and all those who have experienced injustice at the hands of that system.
We stand with broader movements calling for a response to the overwhelming injustice surrounding Bland’s death, as well as the pervasiveness of the injustices that caused her death and that have failed to hold anyone accountable for it.
We call for:
- The immediate, unpaid, and permanent termination of Brian Encinia from the Waller County police force.
- The indictment of Brian Encinia for police misconduct and recognition of how his behavior resulted in Bland’s death.
- Federal involvement in investigations around Sandra Bland’s death – Sign the petition here.
- A federal inquiry into police and department of corrections misconduct and processes for responding to misconduct reports. Sign the petition here.
- National-level reforms to police training, prohibited police conduct, and processes for monitoring, handling, and processing police misconduct reports.