Sister Claims that ‘Gut-Wrenching’ Revisions Were Made To ‘Sandra Bland Act.’
BY SUSAN JOHNES
Sandra Bland was a black woman found dead in a Texas jail following a confrontational traffic stop with a white state trooper. Her sister claims it is “gut-wrenching” that lawmakers stripped police reforms from a bill named after her sibling. She added that they are now pushing a weakened compromise that “painfully misses the mark.”
The 28-year-old woman died in 2015, and her death experienced a national flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement. The Chicago woman was stopped near Houston for not signaling a lane change. She was forcibly pulled from her car and found dead in jail three days later.
“The Sandra Bland Bill was drastically slimmed down in the face of opposition from Republicans. It now mostly focuses on better jail training and mental health care access,” she noted.
In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday night, Sharon Cooper, Bland’s older sister stated that what the bill does in its current state renders Sandy invisible. ‘It’s frustrating and gut-wrenching.”
Cooper who stated that she way speaking on behalf of the Bland family said the legislation as it now stands isolates the very person it seeks to honor and makes compromises at the expense of the family, which painfully misses the mark for the household members.
Democrats claim that they carried the measure and did the best they could against the political realities of the Republican-controlled Legislature and important law enforcement groups.
Unfortunately, the bill unanimously cleared the Senate earlier in the week. It must now clear the House before the legislature adjourns on May 29.
Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman, the original bill sponsor, said late Saturday night he shares Cooper’s displeasure. He maintained, however, that it was not what any of them wanted.
The original bill would have changed policing in Texas by requiring a higher burden of proof for stopping and searching vehicles. Thus, officers who racially profile drivers would be required to go counseling and training for officers. It also would’ve banned arrests over offenses that are punishable by a fine.
Authorities claim three days later, Bland hanged herself in the Waller County Jail with plastic garbage, after being pulled over in July 2015.
However, Dashcam video shows Trooper Brian Encinia ordering Bland out of the car. He draws his stun gun while yelling, “I will light you up!” Later, Bland can be heard screaming off-camera that the trooper was about to break her wrists.
Authorities further say Bland told a jailer during booking that she had previously tried to kill herself.
Family and activists have expressed skepticism that Bland committed suicide. It is one of the reasons organizers take issue with Bland’s name being attached to what is termed a mostly mental health bill.
Read the original story here.