The African American community also failed Sandra Bland

JAMES CLINGMAN | 8/10/2015, 10:13 a.m.
Sandra Bland is dead.
James Clingman

(NNPA) – Sandra Bland is dead.

While many are concentrating on “how” she died, we must also face the reality of “why” she died. All of the circumstances surrounding her death notwithstanding, Bland is still dead. I cannot help but think that along the three-day period from her arrest to her final moments in that lonely and frightening jail cell, there were opportunities to rescue her from such a horrible experience and tragic end.

This is not a rehash of all the conversations, utterances, conjecture and theories put forth after Bland died. Rather, this is a simple critique of what we all saw on video and heard from Bland herself when she called someone to let them know her status, having received a $5,000 bond. To say the least, she was totally frustrated by the entire situation.

Why Sandra Bland died is also obviously connected to who played a role in her death, whether directly or indirectly. Where were the intervention points by which Sandra’s three-days of horror could have been stopped? Was there any way, leading up to her demise, for her to have survived?

She should have never been arrested in the first place, but after she was, what could have been done? My initial inquiry would be directed toward the person who shot the cellphone video, the one to whom the cop said, “You need to leave.” The bystander replied, “Is this public property?” That person obviously had enough backbone to refuse to leave and even question the officer’s order; but did he make any attempt to see what happened to Bland after she was taken away while thanking him for recording the incident?

In such a small town, where I am sure the news of Bland’s arrest got around pretty fast. I wonder if anyone at her new employer, Prairie View A&M University, knew about the incident on the day it took place. If someone did know, did they follow up to check on Bland and make an effort to help her?

Surely, there are a couple of Black lawyers in Prairie View as well. I am not a lawyer, but I know there is something called “habeas corpus,” which directs a person, usually a prison warden or jailer, to produce the prisoner and justify the prisoner’s detention. If the prisoner argues successfully that the incarceration is in violation of a constitutional right, the court may order the prisoner’s release. Am I misinformed about that legality?

Finally, there was the $5,000 bond, which required a 10 percent payment – a measly $500 – for Bland to be released. Does anyone believe that $500 was such an enormous amount of money that Black folks in Prairie View could not raise it to pay her bond? Even the full $5,000 could have been put up by a group of people until Bland’s family was able to send or bring it to the court. Now we have to live with the fact that a major reason this young lady died is the lack of $500! Surely, her life was worth far more than that.