Reclaiming Our Way promoting the well-being of African American children & families


“I Don’t Believe Sandy Committed Suicide”: #BlackLivesMatter Co-Founders Speak Out on Sandra Bland

There is no turning this movement back. The current generation of young people are disgusted with the often-blatant demonstration of racism and white supremacy, especially (although certainly not exclusively) as it's manifested in law enforcement interactions with Black women and men throughout the country.

Young people today are creative, expressive and increasingly clear about the more sophisticated ways in which racism masks itself in seemingly race-neutral institutional policies and practices.

The emperor really doesn't wear any clothes, and young people aren't willing to go along with the current racial arrangement.

History is unfolding every day, and we must choose to be a part of the continuing struggle for justice.

The discussion below is from Democracy Now , on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Part 1 -- approx. 22 mins.

As a Movement for Black Lives Convening is set to take place this weekend in Cleveland, we discuss the case of Sandra Bland and many others who have died in the custody of law enforcement with the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Patrisse Cullors is the director of Truth and Reinvestment at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California, and the founder of Dignity and Power Now, a grassroots organization in Los Angeles fighting for the dignity and power of incarcerated people and their families. Alicia Garza is special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. And Opal Tometi is executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.

Part 2 -- approx. 23 mins.

We continue our conversation with the three women who co-founded Black Lives Matter. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi talk about immigration, LGBTrights and their own personal experiences with hyper-policing. "We think that our actions, our behaviors, our everyday trying-to-get-by, shouldn’t be criminalized," Tometi says. "I’m really looking for an agenda that looks at safety for our communities beyond policing."


Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death

The discussion below is really interesting. In this interview, DeWayne Charleston, the first African American judge in Waller County, Texas, shares far more perspective about the historical context of Waller County and their current sheriff, Glenn Smith.

I'd like to say this is unbelievable, but it's clearly not. This seems entirely consistent with the gradual picture that is evolving of the really racist space in which Sandra Bland met her death. The brazen racism and intimidation that is depicted in numerous accounts of people's encounters with the power structure in Waller County has to be illegal.

I just hope the Justice Department opens a Ferguson-style investigation into the power center in this county, even if only to do justice to Sandra Bland's memory and the many other folks who have experienced the racist and heavy hand of "the law" in this place. The growing evidence, I should add, is that the same should be done throughout the country.

As for Mr. Charleston, this brother's remarks and perspectives are important to hear and consider.

Hundreds gathered Saturday to remember Sandra Bland at the suburban Chicago church she attended for decades before moving to Waller County, Texas, where she was set to begin a new job but was then discovered dead in her jail cell after a traffic stop escalated into an arrest. The 28-year-old African-American woman’s family members stood before her open casket as they continued to dispute law enforcement claims she hung herself with the liner of a trashcan. Illinois Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Bill Foster have sent letters to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a federal investigation into Bland’s death. We go to Texas to discuss the history of racial profiling in Waller County, and police relations with the African-American community, with DeWayne Charleston, who served as the first African-American judge in Waller County, Texas. He also responds to how Bland was arrested and the investigation into her death has been handled, and calls on Sheriff Glenn Smith to resign. Charleston is the author of "The United States v. Waller County, Then Me."

From Democracy Now; Monday, July 27, 2015

Approx. 20 mins.


Michelle Alexander: Beyond Black Spring – Understanding the Roots of a Growing Movement

A brief discussion with Michelle Alexander about the undergirding factors that have shaped community conditions across the country... factors more recently spotlighted during the uprisings in Baltimore, and that continue to inform and shape the national response to incidents like the killings of Sandra Bland (in Texas) and Kindra Chapman (in Alabama), among too many others.

Protests against police violence continue across the US, and this week's episode continues our exclusive reporting on the movement behind the protests. How are the legacies of the eras of slavery, reconstruction, and Jim Crow still with us today? Laura talks to civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar Michelle Alexander about citizenship and the prison industrial complex. Michelle Alexander is author of the best-selling book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, a book which has taken on even more urgency in the current protest moment. This episode also features an exclusive new report from Baltimore, with a look at the issues behind the recent uprising, from housing to education to jobs, and Laura connects the issue of lead paint in Baltimore homes to the death of Freddie Gray.   [Published on Jun 2, 2015]


Video of Sandra Bland’s Arrest in Waller County, Texas; Chicago Woman Found Unresponsive in Jail Cell After Traffic Stop

Below is the video of Sandra Bland's arrest in Waller County, Texas on Friday.  Officials kept her in police custody over the weekend, and report finding her unconscious and unresponsive in a jail cell on Monday morning.  Officials are reporting that she probably committed suicide, but family and friends are saying this is highly unlikely, especially given her recent relocation for a new job at Prairie View A&M University, the institution she attended and graduated from. Given the tone of the interaction during her arrest, and reports of a history of "racial intolerance" in Waller County, one can reasonably question the official story about what happened to Sandra Bland.

Ultimately, something seems really off about this, and I hope we continue to get a better sense of what really happened to Sandra Bland.


What Happened to Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas; Chicago Woman and Prairie View A&M University Graduate

Family, friends and other concerned individuals are pressing to find out what happened to Sandra Bland, a Chicago woman who was relocating to Texas after taking a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. Sandra Bland died in police custody after a routine traffic stop.

From ABC7 in Chicago...

Friends and relatives of a 28-year-old Naperville businesswoman are angrily questioning her death in a Texas jail.

Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County, Texas, jail cell on Monday at 9 a.m. after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer during a routine traffic stop, the I-Team has learned. Authorities say her death appears to be suicide.

In numerous emails and phone calls to the ABC7 I-Team, her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance.

Bland was pulled over Friday for improper signaling a lane change, according to Waller County Sheriff's Department officials. They say she was charged with "Assault on a Public Servant" and taken into custody by a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper.

Bland's friends say she had been with her family in suburban Chicago over the July 4th holiday, and drove to Texas for a job interview at her alma mater, Texas Prairie View A & M. Family members say she got the position and was to begin working in student outreach today.

Sheriff R. Glenn Smith says that jailers saw Bland at 7 a.m. Monday when they gave her breakfast and again at 8 a.m. when they spoke with her over the jail intercom. Smith says she was found dead an hour later. In a press release from the sheriff's department, authorities say they applied CPR, but that Bland was pronounced dead shortly after she was found.

The Willowbrook High School graduate died by "self-inflicted asphyxiation," according to sheriff's deputies, who have turned the investigation over to Texas Rangers. Some family members and friends say Bland was found hanging in the jail cell, but authorities have not confirmed the exact circumstances around her death.

In a press release from the sheriff's department, authorities say they applied CPR, but Bland was pronounced dead shortly after she was found.

Longtime friend LaNitra Dean tells the I-Team that Bland "was a warm, affectionate, outspoken woman" who spoke out about police brutality often on her Facebook page.

"The Waller County Jail is trying to rule her death a suicide and Sandy would not have taken her own life," Dean said. "Sandy was strong. Strong mentally and spiritually."

Waller County Sheriff R Glenn Smith said, through a statement, "any loss of life is a tragic incident."

The statement continued, "While the investigation is being conducted by outside agencies, the Waller County Sheriff's Office will continue to observe the daily operations of the jail to always look for improvements and/or preventions of these incidents."

Wednesday afternoon a small group of Bland's friends converged on the Waller County jail to protest her death. The facility is 50 miles north of Houston. Family members say they intend to bring her body back to Illinois for burial when authorities release it.