One year since Sandra Bland’s death – has anything changed?
By Kacie Whaley
Chicago activists held a candlelight vigil on July 13th to honor the one year anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death.
Over 200 people attended the vigil on Wednesday at the Chicago Federal Plaza to remember the woman who was only 28 years old when she was found dead in a Texas jail cell just three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. The event was held by Women’s All Points Bulletin, a group that supports female victims of police brutality and Black Lives Matter Chicago, according to Daily Mail. Some of Bland’s family members also made an appearance at the event.
“Today is a day of healing and remembering my sister,” said Shante Needham, Bland’s sister. “The protests are great but it’s not always about protesting, so we are going to remember her today.”
Her mother, Geneva Reed Veal, who has been speaking out about her daughter in the media ever since Bland’s death, also attended the vigil. Bland was a Black Lives Matter activist in Chicago. Before her death, she was in the process of moving to Texas, but she was interrupted from starting her new life when Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia pulled her over in Hempstead. Encina became physically aggressive with Bland and arrested her. Three days later, she was found dead in a Waller County jail cell with a plastic bag allegedly wrapped around her neck. Her death was ruled a suicide, but after the public saw the dashcam footage of the traffic stop, many believed she had been killed. Encina has since been indicted for perjury.
DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Chicago place of worship Bland grew up attending, is planning to hold a vigil during its Sunday services. Additionally, Bland’s mother will speak at the church on August 13, 2016. The church is also planning a trip to Texas in November, during which the congregation and church leaders will have a prayer meeting outside of the jail where Bland was detained.
“The African American community cannot be the only ones talking about civil rights and equity,” said DuPage AME Pastor Rev. James Miller. “It’s when white people start talking about it that real action can take place.”
The church is in the process of creating Sandra A. Bland Diversity Institute, a program to train future civil rights leaders.