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Smile or die [Jul. 27th, 2015|12:03 pm]
The question of whether or not Sandra Bland hung herself in her jail cell--while important--is distracting us from the more important issue. Sandra Bland should never have been dragged from that car, and blaming her for her arrest is appalling.

15 years ago I got pulled over by a cop. It was winter, the roads were solid ice, and when the light changed on Northern Lights Boulevard, I tried to stop. Despite antilock breaks, I slid into the middle of the intersection of "C" street. The light completed changing and 5 lanes of traffic started moving toward me. It was rush hour, it was dark, and I had no way to back up. All I could do was clear the intersection.

Looking in the rear view mirror, I saw a police car turn onto Northern Lights and flip on his lights. Sure enough, he was after me. I pulled over, shaking with fury. He asked if I knew why he'd stopped me. I said no, because I'd been unable to stop. He said I'd never even braked. I said that he couldn't have seen that because of where he was sitting when I slid into the intersection. He gave me a ticket anyway. I was crying and angry and not at all cooperative.

He didn't demand that I get out of the car. He apologized for messing up my morning.

That's how such an encounter should go. A police officer should expect that pulling people over is not going to make them happy. An officer should expect that people might, in fact, swear at them, and that the officer's job in the situation is to calm things down.

So when I see people saying that what happened to Sandra Bland is because she was uncooperative, I am horrified. Who are these people who think that police officers should be mindlessly obeyed, and if they do not receive not just cooperation but eager cooperation then those officers are justified in dragging people from their cars and arresting them for resisting an officer.

This is only a few steps from a "let me see your papers" kind of police state. Our fourth amendment rights are threatened and many people are supporting the police as they trample these rights. We are supposed to be protected against unreasonable search and seizure. Refusing to put out a cigarette is not an act that should triggered reasonable seizure. Where does it end? Disagreeing with an officer? Rolling one's eyes? Not smiling?
Do we truly want to live in a world where red lights flashing behind us leave us in fear of our lives?

[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2015-07-27 05:52 pm (UTC)
Yes. Exactly this!
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[User Picture]From: cinema_babe
2015-07-28 12:27 am (UTC)
Or,, as I heard someone say, "if she'd just put out the damn cigarette none of this would have happened".


If a policeman thinks you're being a jerk, they give you a ticket, they don't arrest you. After I saw her arrest tape, I think she signed her death warrant when she told the cop she'd see him in court.

I think a deeper issue that few are willing to engage with is that what happened to Sandra Bland isn't an anomaly. being arrested and ending up injured or dead, ha been happening to Black people for *years*. What's different now is that mobile media allows the images to be captured at that moment, social media allows for exponential sharing and hashtags allows for the quick creation of ad hoc communities that quickly spreads information and can drive social discourse.
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From: caudelac
2015-07-28 02:02 am (UTC)
All of this, all of it, all the time.
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From: simulated_knave
2015-07-28 03:50 am (UTC)
Yes. An infinite number of times yes.
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[User Picture]From: kagomeshuko
2015-07-28 06:35 am (UTC)
This. Yes, I agree. I had somebody comment on my Facebook timeline who she was pulled over three other times. I didn't watch the supposedly full video of the dashboard cam footage, but I've a feeling that there is still nothing there to warrant the arrest.

I know how terrible law enforcement can be because there is some girl who just wants to ruin my life, so despite NEVER stalking a guy and wanting to tell him congratulations on his marriage (even though I don't agree), she (I'm pretty sure it is the girl and not the guy) had me arrested from a freakin' letter that I DROPPED. It wasn't even something I knew where it was other than dropped somewhere on the floor of a building. Two days later, though, I'm arrested . . . somehow they have a warrant to arrest me . . . with no proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sandra Bland's arrest was terribly wrong. I completely agree.
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From: anonymousalex
2015-07-29 01:10 am (UTC)
"Do we truly want to live in a world where red lights flashing behind us leave us in fear of our lives?"

We do live in that world. For appropriate values of "us."

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2015-07-29 01:10 am (UTC)
Sadly, sadly true.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2015-08-04 07:27 am (UTC)
So when I see people saying that what happened to Sandra Bland is because she was uncooperative, I am horrified.
I would be willing to bet that the people that said this would have had a different reaction had this happened to a white woman. They would have been talking about how its our duty as Americans to question authority.
But because Sandra was a Black woman she should have known her place.

You know the whole thing really bothered me because she reminded me of a woman my parents sold a building to when I was a around 13 or 14. The woman was obviously intelligent and creative. She actually turned me on to Interview with a Vampire ( this was pre movie btw ) and I just remember really thinking she was a cool person.
And right after this I thought to myself that all those people justifying this woman's death ( a small group thank god ) probably never interacted in any sort of equal exchange with a person that wasn't white. And therefor probably had zero empathy for her.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2015-08-04 02:04 pm (UTC)
I actually had a 50-ish client, a woman in a white-collar job, tell me that I was the first white person who'd ever treated her like a human being. I was floored.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2015-08-04 06:48 pm (UTC)
That anonymous comment was mine btw ; )
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