Saturday, July 25, 2015

What Happened to Sandra Bland

I can't stop thinking about Sandra Bland.  I wish I could, but I can't and then I feel like a privileged asshole for thinking I should just stop thinking about it.  I read the comments on various newspaper articles about her unwarranted arrest, manhandling, detention and death and I'm shocked.  "Driving while black doesn't exist", "She should have been polite to him", "Cops have hard jobs".   Sandra Bland is dead and none of the shoulda couldas can justify it.    

I have been on the wrong side of men in authority quite a few times, whether it was the police or the Border Patrol or just some guy that assumed authority that he shouldn't have.  It is scary.  I don't think Sandra Bland did anything wrong.  I don't think we should have to bend over and take a foot up the ass because we fear what the police will do, whether it is getting a ticket, sitting on the side of the road for half a day, having charges added, detention, violence or worse.  We should not have to behave slavishly in front of some little Napoleon in order to avoid maltreatment.  But we do it.  I've done it, especially when you see that hair trigger moment and you discover that you're dealing with a maniac.  I saw it in the video of the attack on Sandra Bland.  She answered his questions.  Yeah, she didn't sound like the hostess on the Love Boat, but again....why should she?  She was about to get a ticket for something ridiculous and she's got this needling weasel trying to pick a fight with her.  Damn, she even had the nerve to ask what he was charging her with.  Yeah, she really had it coming.  Here she was thinking that she had rights even though she was a black, female civilian.

I've read the comment "cops dodge bullets for a living" etc., etc., etc.  My question, when Sandra Bland refused to put out a cigarette, did that pig fear for his life?  Did he think 'Man, I am about to get shot!  This woman is a danger to public safety!'?  Fuck no he didn't.  He knew that he was in no danger.  He was pissed off because SHE DID NOT DO WHAT HE SAID.  Why, she was supposed to be licking his balls and thanking him for writing her a ticket!  'No' is not allowed!

I think the thing that makes me the maddest happens at the beginning of the video, believe it or not.  The condescending, provocative little remarks and questions, designed to annoy.  He wanted a fight and he wouldn't stop until he got one.  My favorite part is when she asks him if he feels good about himself and calls him a pussy.  I would have to say that Sandra Bland hit the nail on the head there.  How did he feel about himself in those moments?  Did it feel good to toss this woman around?  Did he feel powerful?  Was it gratifying to 'give her the punishment she deserved'?

There is a book by an artist I like called "How to Commit Suicide in South Africa".  It is a reflection on the large number of prison "suicides" during the apartheid era.  Variations of those words keep running through my mind inadvertently.  How to commit suicide in police custody.   How to kill yourself in a Texas jail. 

I actually don't think what happened to Sandra Bland was completely about race.  I think the police have made it normal to play by their own rules and subjugate the populace.  I think this specific case had a lot to do with misogyny as well.

I fear the police and do not trust them.  If I feel this way, I can only imagine the feelings and experiences of people of color.