Why Sandra Bland?

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By Hermene D. Hartman

Black people are not safe on the streets of America, as policemen stop us. People are afraid, nervous and anxious. I don’t care your age, your gender, the car you’re driving, your occupation or your income. Just that you’re Black.

If the President and/or his wife and/or his daughters left the White House tomorrow without Secret Service protection, they would be subjected to the Black treatment. They both know the situation, because they have first hand experienced it.

We are suspect as we live our daily lives. The case of Sandra Bland is senseless, yet real. Pulled over for a simple traffic offense by a state trooper last month, she ended up dead in a Texas jail cell. She didn’t put on her signal as she was crossing lanes.

She was smoking in the privacy of her vehicle. Smoking in your car is not a crime and does not merit severe police treatment. Why did the cop throw her to the ground? Why did he rough her up? This young lady’s family insists that she in no way committed suicide in her jail cell. No one in his or her right mind commits suicide over a minor traffic violation.

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Wrongful Death???

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Sandra Bland

The family of Sandra Bland filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on last week in Houston, Texas against the trooper and other authorities. The suit claims that the trooper was reckless in pulling Bland from her car, and that jailers showed a “conscious disregard” for her safety. It holds the county and state Department of Public Safety liable for her death.

Why was Bland jailed in the first place? Please. The insult in these matters is that Black folk are treated like we’re crazy and police actions are justified no matter what. I think about the lynchings. Everybody in town knew who was under the Ku Klux Klan white robe, but in that era, no one was tried for taking a Black life.

We are stuck in that same phase in America today. Black life matters. Amen. We can’t keep praying and singing and bringing balloons, candles and teddy bears to the scene. Enough already. And as soon as you get over one traffic cop murder, here comes another.

A man was shot in the head for a traffic violation. Cold-blooded murder caught on camera. The policemen shot him in the head for not having a license plate and then lied that he was being dragged, which was the reason he shot.

When does it stop? These types of incidents are happening all over the country. I had friends from Chicago drive Down South recently. I prayed for them to be safe and not get stopped by policemen.

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Cecil The Lion. . .

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Cecil the Lion and Sandra Bland

For the past few weeks, I have watched the news on Cecil the lion. The lion has gotten more credible coverage than Black folk being killed on the street by the men in blue. The dentist is being sought out for killing the lion like he’s John Dillinger, Public Enemy Number One. But the police just return to work after killing a human being.

Black America has got to face reality. The most dangerous person in America is the officer with the gun. When he stops you, be polite, watch your tone, watch your words, and watch your mouth.

Note that they don’t care who you are – the minister, the president, the government official, the church lady, the teacher, the businessperson, the doctor, the lawyer, or the bus driver. It is open season on Black people doing ordinary things. We are under attack.

An officer stopped me recently. I was turning in downtown Chicago and the sign indicated that turning was permitted after 6 pm. My watch had 6 straight up. The patty wagon officer said it was not six. He asked for my driver license and insurance card. I politely complied. I was quite conscience of my tone. I showed him the time on my watch. He showed me the time on his. He asked, could I be fast. I asked, could he be slow? He smiled, and said move on, but remember the six o’clock rule. Politely, I thanked him. I couldn’t believe my heart was beating so fast.

You cannot get justice on the street when the police stop you, for one simple reason. He has the gun and his decision rules. His split-second decision rules. You might get to court, you might not…the objective is to get home.

The troublesome part is that they kill with no responsibility. It is the cop’s word against yours and the system supports him or her. He might be disciplined, only to return to the street again.

Rules of the Stop. . .

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traffic stop= death?

There are rules of the road – for Black folk, there are rules of the stop. They are:

1. Make no false moves.
2. Do not get out of your car unless the police asks you to.
3. The officer is in charge; let him tell you what he wants you to do.
4. If asked for your license or insurance card, tell the officer where it is and that you are going for it. If you are male and your papers are in the glove compartment, be extra careful and reach slowly.
5. Do not raise your voice.
6. Be polite at all times.
7. Do not argue with the police. If a confrontation is brewing, try to get in the middle of the street, to attract public attention or request going to the station.
8. Watch the tone of your voice.
9. Smile.
10. Remember that the police are in control.

These are simple gestures that could save your life or cost you your life. Don’t try to be right. Be safe.

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