The Sandy Bland Arrest

Liked above is video dashcam footage (and Cenk Uyger’s commentary) taken from Sandy Bland’s arresting officers vehicle. 

First of all, the case. Being the heavy media coverage that this case has already seen, ill just provide an overview.  

After having driven from Chicago to Texas to start a new job, she was pulled over by police for failing to signal a turn. Its something that happens quite a lot (at least where I live), so whatever.

From here however, the narrative (at least as per much of the alternative media) is that, the actions of the officer were overzealous, uncalled for, and the arrest itself was a sham. But that was just the beginning.  

Later that night, Sandy was apperently found dead of suicide, having hung herself with a trash bag. 

Since there is no footage to see from within the facility itself, this incident has become shrouded in doubt an distrust. On one hand, her friends and family claim that the story of her voluntarily ending her own life seems asinine, given very recent voicemails and conversations they had with her (she I guess, seemed positive). 

But on the other hand, I read another article that claimed to have the story of another inmate in the jail at the time. This person reported Sandy as being apperently being in an upset state (they are not as surprised by her self inflicted death as everyone else is).

Now that is an overview of my knowledge of the case, thus far. Some of the information may have changed (particularly the last bit). The last part (for me) is a bit questionable, but even without, the situation does not change much. From what I can can, we don’t know. 

In truth, I had not intended to cover this incident here. I normally avoid single instances such as this story. Party because the media (including the online world) has enough coverage of such incidents, with a fitting viewpoint for pretty much any person. And also because I prefer the bigger picture (in this case, the state of police brutality in general, nationally). I prefer to view many things from a macro level. One reason is that is helps me to comprehend the many nuances of an issue. The other is it helps me to avoid seeing the issue though though the glasses of an ideological narritive or viewpoint.  

While media coverage of past cases is not always great, most of the time it is sufficient for my purposes. There is no such thing as “unbiased” journalism, so I grab facts from where I find them.

But this case has proved very interesting, in how it was utilized and covered. Finding details is no more difficult than usual. However, it seems that all the coverage I see is either though the lens of the alternative media’s police state narritive, or though the lens of #BlackLivesMatter. I would say that its almost to the point of exploitation. 

Its very tragic that she died that night in the cell, no matter the cause. And I fault no one for asking questions, or feeling angry that the whole thing happened in the first place. However, do not forget that a family is in mourning. Though I can not speak  for them, I would not be happy if I seen  countless articles or protests making reference  to the death of my family member, if the reference is soley to back an already decided ideological stance. 

But lets move on. Lets start at the VERY begining. The failed signaling of the intended lane change. 

It is alleged that the officer was tailing (tailgating to be precise) Sandy as she drove down the road. Since there is dash cam footage, I will deem it safe to assume its true. I will not speculate as to why however. Many (even in the media!) have jumped to assumption of #DrivingWhileBlack, but I will not assume that. While I don’t know the motivations of the officer, I will notautomatically assume him racist just to fit the narrative. 

Moving on, she apparently changed lanes to (I guess) get out of the officers way. In doing so she obviously forgot  to signal, which prompted him to pull her over. 

Now, here is where many will assume that she would have been pulled over anyway. I suppose that it is entirly possible. However, what we DO know is that Sandy accidently give him a reason to. 

I have heard some make arguments like “this would not happen in Beverly Hills or the Hampton’s to a Bentley”. If this is in the context of the fact that black drivers in lower income areas tend to be targeted more by the police, then I don’t disagree. However, again I reiterate, the officer did not pull her over just for the fun of it. She failed to signal a lane change, and as such, was likely to recieve a warning. Would an officer pull over a Bentley for failing to signal? 

Though I can not answer that question with any certainty, its still a different question than “would a cop pull over a Bentley for no reason?”. 

 But moving on,  the officer approaches her Bland’s car window and apparently stands there for a few seconds (waiting for acknowledgement apparently). When no acknowledgment is given, the officer asks if she is ok. She responds (in an annoyed tone) that she is waiting for him. In response to the tone, the officer asks if she is irritated. She responds by statin annoyance that she moved over to get out of his way, and ended up getting pulled over. She then says something about her friendly gesture getting her a ticket, and asks the officer for the ticket. 

The officer then asks her if she is done (complaining). She replies with “You asked me what wa wrong, so I told you. So yeah. Were done”. 

“Okay” replies the officer. 

It is at the point that we arrive at now, that I think this all went amuck. For both parties in question. 

The officer asks her to Please put out her cigarette (the emphasis is the tone of the officers voice, which seemed a bit mismatched to the request). Bland refuses, responding with “I am in my car. Why do I have to put out my cigarette?”. 

It is at this point that the officer apparently is annoyed by the perceived insubordination of Bland, and as such asks her to step out of the car. What follows is a long back and fourth between Sandy and the officer. First in getting her out of the car, then on the sidewalk (in the presence of a female backup officer). 

When all I said and done, I do agree with many progressives when they criticize  the arrest. I am unsure how Texas, or even US law works when it comes to smoking in a vehicle in the presence of an officer. But I didn’t think that ignoring such a request is an arrest-able offence. I guess I can see how it COULD be (what non-smoker wants to stand in a cloud of smoke when try happen to pull over a smoker, and what if they are allergic to smoke?). But thats a stretch. 

That leaves the stubborn attitude. Its possible that the officer got fed up with the seemingly entitled attitude displayed by Sandy. First, she was completely  unapologetic about the initial traffic violation (something many progressives are backing up, interestingly enough). And then she didn’t even want to do something as simple as putting out a lit cigarette. 

But you also can’t arrest someone for, simply being unaccomadating. He should have never escalated the situation by issuing a lawful order  (to quote him). On what grounds? 

But at the same time, it could have all been avoided had the cigarette been put out.  Yeah, there will be many that will say “Well he has no right to make that request of her!”. Entirely possible. But frankly, who gives a fuck if its your right to smoke in your car even when being pulled over. Its a bit like continuing to smoke downwind from a nonsmoker that dislikes it. Its rude. So put the smoke out, deal with the warning or ticket, then light up when everythings done. Simple. 

This piece is a bit harsh, in the context of the situation. However, as tragic as this ending is, its but an unfortunate event. Had nothing happened to her later, this woul just be another police harrasment video on youtube. While many such videos are concerning, there are others that are obviously, opertunistic (“Lets get on youtube by provoking a cop into doing something stupid!”). 

No, that likely was not the case here. But as much as Cenk Uyger seems to consider the cop as being the instigator in this case, I do not conclude that. In fact, it looks more like he is making the evidence fit the established TYT “racist police state”   narrative. But TYT is not alone in this. 

But the real garbage reporting on this case, is in terms of the death itself. 

The facts are, the police arrest happened on friday. Her death was discovered  on monday afternoon. Since I assume that SOMEONE was by in the meantime (thats a long period to leave someone without any food or water), im thinking there was a fair bit of time between her anger during the incident, and her death. Of course, this is assuming she was being checked on regularly. But it also seems ridiculous that someone would be left in a jail cell  unchecked for 2 days without food or water. 

So given the information we have, I will assume that she must have calmed down somewhat. 

Now, it seems that it may have gone one of 2 ways. Arresting someone will spawn a lot of anger, and officers may end up dealing with a lot in the heat of the moment. But after awhile, she could  have calmed down and realized her predicament. Which would lead most to try and plan out the next step. 

Or, if the media narritive is correct, she may have never been allowed to calm down, she may have been killed (accidentally or deliberately) as a result. 

Or, maybe it was a slight variation to the first guess. She may have been brought in and eventually calmed down. She may have reached the realization of her predicament. But rather then figuring out how to proceed, she may have got caught up in “What am I going to do now?” / “What have I done?”. Which could possibly have, ended badly. Something else that should be taken into consideration here was the blow to the head that was alleged to have occurred (was she of a sound mind the whole time?). 

While everyone seems to be treating this case as the latest black death at the hands of an officer, there are far to many assumptions being made. The first, is that Sandy Bland was targeted for racial reasons. The 2ed (related), is that she was pulled over for the traffic violation only because she was racially and economically inferior to, those rich and white. And the 3ed assumption, was that her death was a murder. 

Now AGAIN, anything is possible. Having viewed many of the worst incidents in the media, and having heard many of the stories of police abuse and overt scrutiny from the black community (going back MANY decades), it’s entirely possible that this played a role. It could have been willfull racism, or on a subconscious level. Unfortunate either way. 

But even so, the failure to signal IS a reasonable cause to pull someone over. Those that are nitpicking over this, seem to be saying that her failure to signal should have been overlooked. In fact, her own commentary while in her vehicle seems to have her saying this herself. 

Now, I am with everyone that believes that police officers all over America need to:

A.) Calm the FUCK down 

B.) Becomeless trigger happy than the average NRA member

C.) Treat all citizens of the nation equally, no matter their race, economic status or location. 

However, with Sandy Bland, it looks like people are saying that the officer should have let her go. 

First of all, I suspect that he essentially, was. He stated near the end that she was going to jail over a warning. And reading his demeanour pre-cigarette, I don’t disagree that he didn’t intend to go any further then a warning. It all ended up going off the rails, but I doubt it was planned. 

But if the progressive #BlackLivesMatter goal is more equality in police scrutiny and treatment, then they should be careful not to excuse in unfortunate action by Bland (even if it was accidental). If your angry that a Bentley doing the same would be overlooked, than you should not be angry with this officer for NOT overlooking the infraction. 

All in all, Sandy should not have ended up in jail. No matter the circumstances of her death, she should not have been incarcerated in the first place. 

But the arrest situation had fault from both sides. 

No, the officer should not have escalated to arrest just on account to refusal to put out a smoke. He should not have threatened to “light her up”. And he should not have said “Good!” on hearing her say that she was epileptic. 

But, it could have all been avoided if the smoke was put out. The attitude was rude, but who cares (she may have been falsely harassed before). However, there was not really a need to go after both officers when outside the vehicle. Accusing the male of being a bully, and attempting to demoralize the female for (apparently) doing the same. This didn’t confirm the abuse to me. All it confirmed to me, was a rather biased viewpoint (“How dare you enable this white male bully when your a female!”). 

I hope that the real cause of her death is identified. Though those with a bias have already decided on conspiratorial allegations, the truth must be released. Even if you don’t trust the messenger, what else do you have to go on? And what evidence will appease you? 

But over all, I wish that people and the media would stop exploiting this story. 

This entry was posted in Alternative Media Criticisms, Opinion, Various Commentary. Bookmark the permalink.

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