[act-ma] 7/24 history of the Sandra Bland protest movement

Charlie Welch cwelch at tecschange.org
Mon Jul 23 15:27:15 PDT 2018

On Tuesday, July 24, at 7 PM, the Center for Marxist Education will host 
a lecture on the history of the Sandra Bland protest movement by scholar 
Phillip Luke Sinitiere, a presentation by scholars Whitney 
Battle-Baptiste and Marc Lorenc on black materiality and the escalation 
of white supremacist state sanctioned violence, and a poetry performance 
by Boston-based artist Simone John. Moderated by Edward Carson, 

Join scholars and activist Whitney Battle-Baptiste, Marc Lorenc, and 
Phillip Luke Sinitiere and a poetry performance by Boston-based artist 
Simone John at the CME

Three years ago in July 2015, Chicago native Sandra Bland died in Waller 
County Jail.

White Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulled over the 28-year-old 
black woman for failure to signal a lane change. He escalated the 
traffic stop by threatening Bland and screaming “I will light you up!” 
after which he arrested her. Three days later she died in Waller County 
Jail. Bland’s death—which a medical examiner ruled a suicide but which 
her family contested by filing a wrongful death lawsuit—along with the 
dashcam footage of her arrest propelled activists and artists to demand 
justice. Bolstered by circulating the “Sandy Speaks” vlogs Bland created 
on Facebook in early 2015 and using hashtags like #SayHerName and 
#WhathappenedtoSandraBland activists harnessed social media to bring 
attention to her case. They also conducted direct action protests and 
marches in Houston and across the country. While a Texas grand jury 
indicted Encinia with perjury (after which the Texas Department of 
Public Safety fired him), in early 2016 they returned no indictments of 
Waller County Jail officials in her death. During the summer of 2017, a 
judge dismissed the charges against Encinia. He also surrendered his law 
enforcement license, which means he will never again work as a police 
officer. Later that year Bland’s family settled their lawsuit with 
Waller County and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Despite the closure of Bland’s case and it comprehensive injustice, the 
grotesque brutality of the traffic stop, the contested claim that she 
took her own life, we still don’t know what happened inside of her cell 
in Waller County Jail. Yet Sandra Bland lives on—digitally resurrected 
in her “Sandy Speaks” videos and as the subject of art and culture—as 
both a reminder of state violence against black women and as an 
inspiration for continued resistance to the imperiled status of black 
people in the United States and across the world.

More information about the Act-MA mailing list