When Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray died, both questions of police brutality erupted as well as supporters for the those who protect and serve. The #BlackLivesMatter trend was seen daily on social media and some of the latter supports argued that the three men would be alive today if they had followed orders.
Many news outlets, including Fox News, argued that both Garner and Brown had too much in common: both broke the law for some petty offenses and, after some bad decisions and the attraction of the police, paid the ultimate price. No law enforcement officers were indicted, causing controversy throughout the nation.
For Sandra Bland and her run-in with the police however, much of the arguments can be found in support of Bland. Even two Fox legal analysts condemned Bland’s arrest.
For those not familiar with the mess in Waller County, Texas, Bland, a 28-year-old African American woman from Chicago who was in Texas for a job at Prairie View A&M University, was stopped by officer Brian Encinia for a lane change violation.
The incident escalated, with Bland being arrested and taken to jail. She was found three days later hanging in her cell, although the cause of her death, whether it be suicide or murder, is causing a stir.
From the roughly 48 minute dash cam video of the traffic stop, the exchange between Bland and Encinia shows Bland’s questions had justification. She repeatedly questioned Encinia’s decisions and asserted her rights. Bland, a Black Lives Matter activist, is told she is under arrest before she has left the car, yet when she asks what she’s being arrested for, Encinia does not answer.
Encinia seems to escalate the tension when he asks Bland to put out her cigarette, which she is smoking in her car, and she refuses. He threatens to “light her up” with his taser, shouts at her for moving, after ordering her to move, and slams her to the ground. As tensions rose, Bland was heard cursing at him, as she felt her rights were being violated, and Encinia seemingly gets irritated.
The chaotic confrontation shows Bland directly challenging her treatment, and whether the cause of her death was the law enforcement’s fault or her own (she was, at one point, depressed) it always seems that the whole story is never told. It was alleged that the dash cam video was edited when it was first released, as cars can be seen moving in and then disappearing in the shot.
With the video and inconsistencies in Encinia’s story, Bland’s side of the story is one I will take.
We are living in the height of the controversial police incidents, but nobody can say that Sandra Bland would still be alive today if she had used her turn signal, something almost everyone fails to do on a daily basis, and one thing so petty and little to stir such a mess.
Sure, playing it cool and remaining calm when being stopped by an officer may stop incidents from escalating certain times, but knowing your rights are being violated and then speaking on it can make some officers think you’re being disrespectful, making it especially hard to bite your tongue.
Much of the focus is on how exactly Sandra Bland died, where the truth may take a while to come out, but I think the question should be why she was detained in the first place. Both involved were irritated, but it is the cop’s job to deescalate a situation.
I don’t believe the Sandra Bland case was a full racist-fueled event, but since African American people and cops don’t have a good track record in the likes of the Garner, Grey and Brown supporters, the relationship between citizens and law enforcement is crumbling.