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Activists Demand Sandra Bland Investigation With 750,000 Petition Signatures

“I am here because Sandra Bland matters.”

On August 26, activists delivered 260,000 signatures to the Justice Department, demanding a federal investigation of Sandra Bland’s suspicious death in a Texas jail. Although officials ruled her death a suicide, many suspect she was murdered and, regardless of her official cause of death, her needless arrest during a traffic stop directly led to her demise.

In addition to Bland, several other victims of police violence were named at the rally, including Darrien Hunt, a young black cosplayer shot in Utah last year while “armed” with a fake sword. After discussing these and other killings,

“I am here because Sandra Bland matters.”

On August 26, activists delivered 260,000 signatures to the Justice Department, demanding a federal investigation of Sandra Bland’s suspicious death in a Texas jail. Although officials ruled her death a suicide, many suspect she was murdered, and regardless of her official cause of death, her needless arrest during a traffic stop directly led to her demise.

In addition to Bland, several other victims of police violence were named at the rally, including Darrien Hunt, a young black cosplayer from Utah tragically shot by cops while “armed” with a fake sword. Later, Courtney Dowe performed “Be Blessed,” Sandra Bland’s favorite song.

Say Her Name! Sandra Bland!

Thanks to @nativeone for this video, and @UnToldCarlisle for suggesting this post.

It was the second delivery of petition signatures to the Department of Justice. Earlier in August, activists delivered 500,000 Sandra Bland petition signatures, according to Freddie Allen, NNPA’s Senior Washington Correspondent:

During the press conference about the petition July 30, Lois Wilkins, a Freeland, Mich. resident and mother of four who started the petition on MoveOn.org, recounted a conversation that she had with her daughter Ebony Joy, who felt a strong connection with Bland’s life and tragic death. Ebony also admired Bland’s work as an activist and her decision to return to her alma mater to mentor the next generation of Black leaders.

“She said, ‘Mom, I could have been Sandra Bland,’” Wilkins remembered, “’And if I die in police custody, I want you to know that I did not commit suicide.’”

Wilkins continued: “It was at that moment that I had no choice but to act.”

 
While people often criticize petitions as ineffectual, I think they can have a powerful effect when they’re used to reinforce direct action, as we see happening here.
 
Civil rights groups demand federal investigation into the death of Sandra Bland

Tinariwen perform on March 19, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. This band, composed of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara Desert region of Mali, appears on Kevin Gosztola's list of the best protest music of the decade so far. (Flickr / ScannerFM)
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Kit OConnell

Kit OConnell

Kit O’Connell is a gonzo journalist and radical troublemaker from Austin, Texas. He is the Associate Editor and Community Manager of Shadowproof. Kit's investigative journalism has appeared in Truthout, MintPress News and Occupy.com.