And they wonder why we rage.
They wonder why we march. They wonder why we don’t believe police stats or grand jury conclusions. They wonder why we fly off the handle when asked why we don’t trust law enforcement or have to defend our consternation with methods such as stop-and-frisk and racial profiling.
Woe unto he who shouts "FTP" at the top of his lungs when mysterious deaths of Black and Brown people as the targeted, calamitous, clumsy and callous nature of police maleficence stains the front page of our favorite news apparatus. He will certainly be branded a malcontent.
Police failure to be completely transparent as to the history, depth, effect and pervasiveness of racism has driven many in communities of African descent, as well as many Hispanic communities, to refrain from contacting the police altogether even when we actually need them. Some would rather deal with the danger they know (neighborhood criminals) than the possibility of dealing with an overzealous, callous and overworked badge who often time act as an accelerant on whatever smoldering situation that they may have been dispatched to extinguish.
The frequency of horror stories circulating in the mainstream media since before the death of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman have increased as of late, likely because of the fact that police brutality and racially motivated uses of force have been under more scrutiny in the greater society than ever before, perhaps do in part to the manner in which information is disseminated in the digital age.
Additionally, much of the conversation has referred to the manner in which law enforcement, and society at large, targets men of color. Statistics and literature dating back to the 1800's document the xenophobic and racist reasoning behind society’s targeting of Black men by law enforcement and law enforcement proxies, but Black women are often victimized, assaulted, raped and murdered under mysterious circumstances while in the custody of the police.
Despite the reality of this nightmare scenario, the very first wide-ranging acknowledgement of the paucity of concern for female victims has only just recently begun being addressed with the advent of the #SayHerName campaign and accompanying hashtag back in May of this year. Indeed, even The Shadow League had to reassess the manner in which its coverage was heavily male-centric as well.
Last week 28-year-old Sandra Bland left her home in Chicago, Illinois in pursuit of a job in Texas. Last Friday, she was arrested after a traffic stop in which she was charged with assaulting a police officer.
On Monday authorities say Ms. Bland accepted her breakfast at Waller County Jail near northeast Houston, Texas at around 7 am. She then spoke with staff at 8 am about making a phone call. Authorities say she was found dead at approximately 9 am on Monday and ruled it a suicide almost immediately.
However, likely because of an increased vigilance against rogue policing methods, family and community activists alike are calling foul on the scenario.
“The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life,” one friend told the ABC affiliate in Chicago. “Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually.”
“Based on the Sandy that I knew, that’s unfathomable to me,” Sharon Cooper said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
And what do we know of the history of this department?
Waller County Sheriff, and steward over the Waller County Jail, Glenn Smith was actually fired as police chief of Hempstead, Texas over claims of racism. Afterwards, Smith ran for election in the predominantly white Waller County against black candidate Jeron Barnett and won convincingly. That's just a little something to let our readership know how far an uphill climb those wishing to shame the greater populous into outrage regarding police brutality and excessive force have. Quite simply, most White folks just don’t care. A greater number of Black folks would rather not talk about it either.
Bland had just interviewed for a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, and had reportedly been given the job. What is causing a great deal of pain, as well as doubt, for family and friends of the deceased is that her life was in the midst of a positive uptick; new job, new state and a world of new possibilities. Yet we’re supposed to believe that Ms. Bland became suicidal after her encounter with law enforcement?
Thankfully, the days of blindly believing authority figures appear to be over.
American society can no longer allow suspicious deaths to be swept under the rug. In the end, it creates even more ill-will toward law enforcement.
On Friday July 17 it was revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be looking into the Waller County Jail, and the death of Bland. Though this is indeed a positive move, we must also remember that it is something akin to the fox guarding the hen house because, honestly, the FBI has plenty of innocent Black blood on its hands also. But, seeing as though it's the only option, we can only hope they'll be thorough and objective.
This unfortunate circumstance is another example of why some proudly and defiantly flaunt their disdain for law enforcement. The rooting out, firing and prosecution of all who are found to exercise their authority along lines of race and bigotry will go a long way toward solidifying a bond of trust between law enforcement and communities of color.
Otherwise, a cold war atmosphere will remain until another riot explodes in the streets of inner city America.