The same week that a sitting US president visits a federal prison for the first time in the nation’s history, Sandra Bland died in jail. Waiting for her family to be able to bail her out. After being pulled over for not using her turn signal to indicate she was about to change lanes.
Got that? She changed lanes without signaling.
And four days later she’s dead in police custody.
My heart is with Bland’s family. May they have all the resources and support they need to endure this trauma. May they get whatever answers they demand. May they receive whatever #JusticeforSandy that feels meaningful to them. Though I struggle to imagine what “justice” might now mean for her family and friends.
Where does justice live, when love only cries out for the beloved’s return — yet the beloved is no more?
For the rest of us, justice must mean no more senseless deaths at the hands of the police. It must mean an end to the state-sanctioned and state-facilitated slaughter of America’s Black (and brown) daughters and sons.
Officials in the jurisdiction where Sandra Bland died are claiming she committed suicide. This seems ludicrously implausible, given the other facts known publicly at this time — including a pattern of deaths-ruled-suicide in the Waller County jail and the involvement of a county sheriff who had been fired as chief of police in another jurisdiction for racism, abuse, and out-of-control anger.
I am also unclear how “suicide” even constitutes an exoneration?
Bland died in a cage of the State.
If government cannot protect even the bare physical life of a human being over which it holds such complete dominion, then surely it has lost any moral authority it may ever have had to cage another human so.
When you leave that federal penitentiary today, President Obama, how many souls do you leave behind, in their barred cells? How many are you absolutely certain will still breathe, by this time next week?
If the answer is anything less than 100%, then justice demands the doors unlocked and the cages flung open.
This is the morality I recognize.
This is a justice I will speak.