The Lynching of Sandra Bland

We are not sure yet of all the facts. Yet major news media sources declared that Sandra Bland died on July 13 by suicide while in custody of the Texas criminal justice system. The autopsy report is thought to confirm the cause of death. Yet now a third autopsy is being requested because of inconsistencies.

As a mental health advocate with a brother who is often suicidal, we need to be aware of the implications of conflating violence with mental illness. This was more than a woman who decided to end her life. This was a crime scene.

I agree with the statement of Ray(nise) Cange who said in her blog post “Why I’m Not Ready To Rule Out Suicide in the Case of Sandra Bland,”

I want us to hold multiple truths. Whether Sandra Bland committed suicide or not, we can indict a system. We must hold nuanced discussions that address the implications of state violence while removing the stigma around mental health and suicide, recognizing that state-sanctioned violence can produce suicide as a response. Black people, especially Black women, do not all possess the strength and resiliency to continue to move through a world made brutal by white supremacy.

Yet, with the facts as we have them now, I do not believe Bland died by suicide. She was murdered. Whether it was at the brutal hands of a white police officer, or self-inflicted; Bland’s death was caused by the gruesome disfigurement of justice. 

The responsibility of Bland’s death is not on her, as a label of suicide would place the blame. Say it’s a suicide and case closed. However, Texas law enforcement should be held accountable. Some say it was suicide by hanging in her jail cell; I say, given the context, it was a lynching.

There is no justice when there is no peace. Suicide is not the issue. The issue here is profiling Blacks and police brutality on Black bodies. Black lives matter; that’s what justice looks like. We will only have peace when Black lives matter.

Published by Sarah Griffith Lund

Leader, preacher and author of *Blessed are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Church and Family*

14 thoughts on “The Lynching of Sandra Bland

  1. My first question is when I saw the video is “Why didn’t Sandra Bland get out of the car when the policeman gave the order?” I only have been stopped by the police once in my life but I immediately followed all the requests the policeman gave. I still received a ticket and had to go to court for loud mufflers. My point is that the police have no idea what the person in the car may have or do, so they are on high alert. I do not agree that yanking her out of car was justified, but if she had followed his orders immediately, I feel confident the situation would not have escalated.

    *Blessings,Emma *

    1. We all know the rules when stopped by police: hands on the wheel, be kind, be responsive and obedient. But should the consequence of breaking a rule mean arrest and imprisonment? A burden of being black in America is the inability to make a mistake. For African Americans, the consequences for error are too high.


    2. By law, she didn’t have to get out of her car. All the lawyers have said it. I’ve seen plenty of you tube videos where white men are blatantly disrespectful and beligerent and call the cops names, refuse to comply with orders and the cop give them a warning, thank them and tell them to have a good day. She knew her rights and you don’t have to get out of the car.

    3. What I am understanding you saying here is that it was her fault that the policeman acted illegally. No. The police was at fault, not her. He didn’t have the authority to tell her to put out her cigarette, nor to get out of the car and certainly not to physically abuse her.

    4. Why was she told to get out of the car? Is my question. I’ve been pulled over more than once and never was asked or told to get out of my car.

    5. The cop was being abusive from the get go. He had an agenda and it was to inflict pain. That is not an officer of the law, that is a criminal, no different then those who lynched in the old days. She should have rolled up her window and called for assistance. He is a racist and could not handle her “perceived” uppity attitude. Give her a ticket and move on. No one has to grovel like a dog for him. We need to quit blaming the victims in these situations. We need to agree that systemic racism is a big big problem. Those who do deny it are the biggest problem.

  2. Why should anyone die because they exercised their Constitutional rights? Why should anyone be brutalized by a policeman for not following illegal orders?
    The US is not a dictatorship. We do not have to bow and scrape to those who are using excessive force. We have the right to demand the police follow the law, too.

  3. Lynching is a strong term without so many questions. Yes the officer made a bad stop, and yes, a police officer can order you out of a car, and yes, she could have been killed, or she could have committed suicide (she had bouts of depression and mentioned it to police), but without evidence calling it a murder is so jumping to conclusions. Many whites feel they have to do this leap before looking so they won’t anger blacks. The DOJ needs to investigate and let’s see where the family autopsy goes.

    1. My point is to create a long distance between the type of death caused by extreme depression (suicide) and the death caused by a series of such atrocious acts of violence and injustice. Too often “suicide” is used in a blanket, generic way. If she did end her life, it was because others ended it for her first.

    2. It’s not a “bad stop” What does that even mean? It was criminal and he knew it. He purposefully pulled her out of camera view and abused her, You can hear it on the tape. You take offense to the use of the word murder, which the author justified through context, while I take offense to the minimizing of the situation and implying that he “just made a bad stop”. That’s ridiculous, all things considered.

  4. If someone dies as the result of you or me committing a crime, they will call that “felony murder” and throw the book at us (as they should). When someone dies because a cop unlawfully detains them, threatens them, harasses them, assaults them, and kidnaps them off the street, we apparently call that “good police work” and make excuses that “they have a tough job.”

  5. It used to be that police were responsible for the safety of those in their care, is this no longer the case? How was she permitted to hang herself, if that is what happened, and no custodian is held accountable?

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