What I Can Say About Sandra Bland

24 Jul

It’s hard for me to write about the Sandra Bland case. I can’t pretend to be an expert on police procedures or being black in the USA. I’ve edited videos and photos but can’t always tell if someone else has.

I wish I was more of a medical expert here. I suspect that the police holding her neglected her health and let her die over the course of three days, maybe because they were afraid to let the public know about her injuries. Maybe she became asphyxiated during an epileptic seizure that left her in a bad position. I have my doubts that it was suicide. The few young activists I’ve known who have been in jail wanted to stay alive in order to tell their stories. Then again, all the ones I’ve known have been white. Maybe they figured they could go on with life.  See the link on point one below for an argument in favor of ruling it a suicide.

I also doubt that it was deliberate murder. That particular jail had been in trouble for so many violations recently, including being too easy to escape, that I doubt its guards would ever scheme such an elaborate conspiracy unless they felt forced to do so. Negligence just seems more plausible for such incompetents.

Anyway, here’s what I can say:

1. Even if it was suicide, which I’ll admit is likely, the general public should show more sympathy about the causes that drove her to suicide.

2. The jail neglected to enforce Texas’s rules about watching possibly suicidal prisoners. We know that for sure. If you believe in law and order, then hold the law accountable to its own rules.

3. Even if I’m no expert, this woman is. I can share her words.

4. Police shouldn’t fear civilian cameras. That’s probably the one thing that makes me the most annoyed about the two different videos, one of them shot by a bystander at a good distance away who was still told to leave. Police aren’t always wrong. They aren’t always right either. Often in these comment threads, commenters tell people to obey and be respectful to the cops. Sometimes these commenters go as far as saying that if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. That kind of statement should apply equally to the police themselves.

5. I’m tired of a media obsessed with narratives about devils and saints. Internet commenters are even worse. This happens all the time with crime reporting and it sickens me. No one is perfect. Few people are perfectly evil.

What disturbs me most in this particular case was the red herring that the medical examiner found THC in Bland’s body. Smearing her corpse with accusations of reefer madness is sickening. Plenty of people, black, white, rich and poor alike use cannabis for various reasons, including use of it’s derivatives as a treatment for epilepsy, which Bland had. I suspect hypocrisy on the part of many of her accusers here.

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