#SandraBland: Anonymous wants 2015 case reopened after black woman's death in jail cell was ruled suicide

Hacktivist group Anonymous took to Twitter to remind people about the Sandra Bland case where the 28-year-old died three days after being arrested

                            #SandraBland: Anonymous wants 2015 case reopened after black woman's death in jail cell was ruled suicide
(Getty Images)

As tensions erupted over the death of George Floyd, who died after a now-former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck, the lack of regard for African American lives can no longer be tolerated by the people of America. Despite Floyd repeatedly telling Chauvin he could not breathe, the officer did not budge in a viral video that has sparked nationwide outrage against police brutality. With the protests, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement is now gaining momentum. 

As the country deals with the aftermath of Floyd's death, long-dormant hacktivist group Anonymous tweeted under the handle LatestAnonNews to remind people about Sandra Bland, 28, who died while in police custody in 2015. The tweet also called for the case to be reopened. The tweet read, "Sandra Bland was killed in police custody in 2015. We will never forget her. SAY HER NAME. Let's get her case reopened. #BlackLivesMatter." The tweet also features a video of Sandra Bland during one of her video series 'Sandy Speaks', where she is speaking up against racism and injustice.

Last year, a newly-emerged video, which was shot by Bland, showed exactly what happened during the infamous pretextual traffic stop when she had been pulled over by now-former Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia. She was arrested after this traffic stop.

Daija Belcher, 5, holds a sign in front of the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church during the funeral service for Sandra Bland on July 25, 2015, in Lisle, Illinois (Getty Images) 

Three days after the traffic stop, Bland, 28, was found hanging in her jail cell in Waller County, Houston, on July 13, 2015. After the young woman was found dead in her cell, the authorities released dashcam footage of her arrest and the state erupted in protests. Disputes arose over the actual cause of her death and there were also many allegations of racial violence against her. The video taken from Bland's perspective had called for a new investigation into her death. The video clip showed an altercation between former state trooper Encinia and Bland during the traffic stop.

This was the first video that showed the incident from Bland's point of view. In the video, Encinia is seen leaning on Bland's car and taking out his taser after pulling her over for allegedly failing to indicate she was changing lanes. Encinia points the taser at Bland and is heard shouting, "Get out of the car! I will light you up. Get out!" As Bland emerges from the vehicle and continues to record Encinia, he screams at her to get off the phone. "I’m not on the phone. I have a right to record. This is my property," Bland is heard responding. The video that was released by WFAA and was around 39 seconds long ends shortly after. 

Bland was found dead three days after being arrested at the Waller County Prison. As per a statement from the Waller County Sheriff's Office, she was found dead in her cell "not breathing from what appears to be self-inflicted asphyxiation". We had earlier reported that her death had been written off as a suicide but the video provided a different perspective on the matter. It also raised suspicion that officials had held back evidence about her questionable arrest and subsequent death. The video also raised Bland's family's suspicion that Texas officials held back vital evidence. Bland's sister Shante Needham told MEA WorldWide that the family had never seen the footage and were asking Texas officials to re-examine the case. 

"This video is confirmation that the special prosecutors could have prosecuted former officer Brian Encinia but chose to cut a deal. As a result, we've been made to move on. We can't tell you how proud we are that we've managed to do that through sheer will and determination," Needham shared. According to Andre Segura, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas, "Recording an officer is a constitutional right; not a crime warranting threats. This new video presents Ms Bland’s own view of the officer’s severe misconduct, including needlessly escalating the situation, misuse of a taser gun, and threatening language." Segura added, "Most importantly, it shows that Ms Bland was not engaging in dangerous behavior. Sandra Bland should still be alive today. We must continue to hold agencies accountable to the very public they swore to protect."

The hacktivist group, Anonymous, announced its return to social media on Saturday, May 30, to show solidarity with the global protests over Floyd's agonizing death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. 

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