Bernie Says Her Name: The Story Behind Sanders and Sandra Bland

Bernie Says Her Name: The Story Behind Sanders and Sandra Bland October 15, 2015

This is such a moving post about how Bernie embraced the Sandra Bland case to the extent that he said her name specifically in Tuesday night’s debate (and said, “Black lives matter” more clearly than any other candidate):

“Hello, I’m sorry, are you Mr. Sanders?” I asked.

“I am,” he replied.

“Well, I’m just over there having dinner with the mother of Sandra Bland and I thought maybe you’d like to meet her.”

“Yes, please,” he replied.

I got up to walk back towards our table only to see that Shante, Sandra’s oldest sister, was already headed towards me. She is a woman who knows how to get things accomplished, so I was not surprised to see her coming after me to see if I needed support.

Bringing Ms. Geneva back over to the table, I felt my body trembling. The trembling continued as Ms. Geneva sat down next to Senator Sanders and they began to talk. I was not trembling out of fear or out of being star-struck, it was more that I was completely blown away by the unexpectedness of it all, the sacredness of the moment, and the sincerity of all involved. You do not often get to witness moments like that. Moments when agendas are laid aside and people who might not otherwise ever have the chance to connect without cameras watching can simply honor one another’s pain and humanity.

“What happened to your daughter is inexcusable,” he said. “We are broken, and this has exposed us.” He then continued by promising that he would continue to #SayHerName #SandraBland and would not give up in the pursuit of justice.

The spontaneity of the moment lent sincerity to words unrehearsed, phrases unplanned, in an interaction that was never supposed to take place.

Read the rest of this beautiful article here and let me know what you think.

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  • April LeBlanc Faure

    Bernie Fife here is an idiot. He jumped on a bandwagon because he was heckled and threatened until he did so, then he decided it was a good campaign. What happened to Sandra Bland was inexcusable because her behavior was inexcusable. I know I don’t want an idiot like him to be my President. Bland was high, she broke the law, she went to jail, and she killed herself. I have reached the point where I believe her family should be ashamed of her behavior. They all make me sick.

  • Curtis Martin

    “What happened to Sandra Bland was inexcusable because her behavior was inexcusable.”
    Uh……. Say what? Look Ms. Bland had depression issues – that has become clear. On what was supposed to be the day of her new beginning, she winds up in a very unfortunate encounter with a police officer. An officer who, by the way, is supposed to defuse such a situation, not inflame it. Was she under the influence of something? That means she DESERVES to Die? And what really doesn’t add up here is that they didn’t take her and throw her in a drunk tank and come back to find her pulling a Lamar Odom – nothing of the sort. Instead, she was left in a jail cell, without sufficient charges, for days (so the intoxication is relevant how?) and then was left unsupervised, even though she had made threats of self harm, and she hung herself. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Ms. Bland believed that she would have lost her new job and then, as a woman suffering with depression, overreact and hurt herself.
    Your comment is incredibly insensitive and borders on “the only good one is a dead one”. Under no conditions is getting high and mouthing off to a police officer grounds for execution (unless, I suppose, you think that all fo the uppity ones should just be hung) and that’s taking the worst possible view of this incident that one could take.
    The Police and the correctional system are supposed to protect everyone involved. If Ms. Bland was perceived as a danger to others because of her erratic behavior (or, “failure to signal a lane change”), then yes, she should be detained until her wild lane changing ways are curbed. At the same time, the corrections department had just as much of a responsibility to protect Sandra Bland from anyone who would harm her – including – as she herself threatened – Sandra Bland. Even assuming the worst, this is a tragic outcome that is totally unjustified. When seen for what it is, it is an example of systemic racism (yes, I know the officer is Hispanic) against African-Americans and there is simply no other way to explain that away.

  • jekylldoc

    I am still not convinced she killed herself, and I am fully convinced that the police officer was completely out of line. What happened to her was inexcusable, and we have been exposed. If it was just her case, and there was not a pattern of similar behavior by the police, I might be willing to give the police the benefit of the doubt. But it wasn’t, and we are broken.

    Did she “mouth off” to a police officer? I don’t think so. She answered his illegitimate question with a legitimate answer and got beat up for it. We are broken.

  • April LeBlanc Faure

    Never once did I say she deserved to die, I said that her behavior was the behavior that was inexcusable. Se never made threats of self harm. It was not the jails job to babysit her, nor were they Dr. Phil. The only person at fault for her death is her, she did it. The correctional system is to punish. They do have an obligation to keep prisoners safe, but it is the prisoner’s obligation to keep them safe from themselves. I is not feasible to put every prisoner on suicide watch. They asked her if she had suicidal thoughts currently, she said no. I have followed this closely, I have read every speck of evidence. They had no idea she would hang herself, and she is the only on responsible for the act. On one intake it said she had attempted suicide on another, it said she did not. Two different jailors, the same person giving the answers. She did not “deserve” it, but it is no ones fault but her own. I never said it was justified or deserved, but Bland will have to answer for it, which she has, when she faced God. Her stop, her arrest, nor her suicide had anything to do with race. Period.

  • April LeBlanc Faure

    There is no illegitimate question. And she did not get “beat up”. Read her autopsy, the only trauma was on her wrists due to the cuffs, and her back, because she resisted arrest and had to be restrained. She was never ‘beat up”

  • Curtis Martin

    There are individuals and systems involved here. There is racism involved both conscious and unconscious. I sincerely disagree with you that the Corrections Systems have a primary and exclusive responsibility of punishment. The primary responsibility is the safety of society and the rehabilitation of those in it’s care to that end. Sometimes, it is not possible for a person to live in society or they have committed a crime so severe that they forfeit that privilege.
    This case does not involve behavior that would require such a forfeiture. It is a tragedy that Ms. Bland is dead and that the officer couldn’t have just written a ticket and driven away. The behavior of many involved is questionable and is most is clearly informed by the type of racism that is institutional in nature. However, the overreactions are suspicious at the least and in the case of the arresting officer, there is no doubt in my mind that Ms. Bland’s race did play a part in the Sheriff’s Inexcusable actions.

  • Vucodlak

    Ages ago, I studied criminal justice at university. I will never forget what my Intro to Law Enforcement professor said, on the first day of class. First, he asked a question: “What is the purpose of the police?”

    Being the first day, no one was quick to volunteer an answer. A couple of hands were raised, hesitant and uncertain. “And don’t say ‘To Serve
    and Protect,’” the professor added. Down went the hands.

    After another few moments of awkward silence, he gave us our answer: “The purpose of the police force is to protect the status quo. That’s it.”

    I was shocked, and I wasn’t alone. “If you don’t like it, there’s the door,” he added, and began to lay out his case.

    I didn’t leave right away, but I did drop out after a few classes. I wanted so badly to prove him wrong, because for me the class wasn’t just a credit; I wanted to be a cop. I wanted to help people, to protect them. But the more I read, and the more I studied, the more I realized he was right.

    There are many good people who are police officers. Many police officers do help people in need. But ultimately, they are only allowed to do so because it serves the interests of the rich and powerful. The hoi polloi are easier to manage if they don’t get too unhappy. Police are there to comfort the comfortable, even if it means afflicting the afflicted.

    The system is utterly and wholly corrupt. The police are the enforcers of people who don’t give a damn about laws or justice. The people at the top answer to no one, so neither do the enforcers. Barring the occasional
    scape-goat, anyway. In the end, it won’t matter whether you are for or against the status quo. Get in the way, even inadvertently, and Power
    will steamroll right over you.

    All the toadying in the world won’t save you, if you find yourself labelled an inconvenient person. Sure, it’s less likely you’re not part of a minority, but it can still happen to anyone. Even the wealthy and
    powerful aren’t entirely immune. They will throw out the occasional sacrifice, if it will keep the majority of them comfortable.

    Really, the only way for everyone to be safe is for the system to change. I think Senator Sanders offers some small chance of that, unlike any of the other mainstream candidate.

  • April LeBlanc Faure

    Rehabilitation is a lofty term. You expect way too much of a tiny county jail if you expected them to rehabilitate Bland. It is short term. She did not have to forfeiture her right to live in society. She was in jail for 3 days and she would have been out if her family would have paid her bail. It is too bad that Bland did not follow the simple and lawful order to exit her vehicle. It is too bad that she tried standing up for her rights without knowing what they were. It is too bad that she did not have mentally unstable, depressed, high, and suicidal tattooed on her forehead so that the very tiny jail could have known to get her help. And most of all, it is too bad that her family did not bother bailing her out.

  • jekylldoc

    There is no illegitimate question? You think every move the cop made was professional? April, that is a weird view of police work. It mocks the professionalism of the many cops who manage their temper and do their work right.

    You may be right about autopsy. I will say I don’t fully trust it. I requested the report of the investigation and I am willing to wait until I get an answer to that.

    But threatening someone with a taser because they refuse to put out a cigarette, and dragging them out of the vehicle because they were not subordinate enough is bad enough already. I can put together scenarios in my mind in which the policeman was doing his duty, but in all of them his choices look provocative, obnoxious, and a threat to freedom. Most of the scenarios that make some sense of this story are just horrible.

  • jekylldoc

    Vucodlak –

    I understand the reasons why what you say makes sense. There is a lot of truth in it. But by oversimplifying I think you do a great disservice to the goodness that you acknowledge. There are countries in which the system is utterly and wholly corrupt. You never want to live in one.

    The corruption of the criminal justice system in the US, like that in most developed countries, is often local and contingent. Yes, the bottom line is looking after the status quo, but in many cases society consents to that because it actually makes sense. The status quo is not such a bad thing, and it takes some looking after (again, you don’t want to live in one of the countries where that is not given its due). But if we just assume the job will get done in a humane and professional way, then it is easy for it to turn inhumane and oppressive.

    The attitudes and practices of the US relative to its Black citizens have long been a dramatic illustration and a festering threat to all of our freedom. We elected a Black president. Now lets see if we can finish cleaning up the corruption of oppression.

  • April LeBlanc Faure

    There is no illegitimate question. During a traffic stop, the officer can ask whatever. Here is where actually knowing her rights would have come in handy, she did not have to answer whatever he asked. Was every move professional? Maybe not, but every move was legal. He did not threaten her because she refused to put out her cigarette. He threatened her when she refused to get out of the car. He could ask her to put out the cigarette. She could refuse. He could demand she get out of the vehicle. She could not refuse. Mimm’s Law. Authority to demand she exit the vehicle is given to him by our very own Supreme Court. Subordinate??? She refused a lawful order. He told her he was giving her a lawful order. At that point, she was under arrest, and it is a legitimate use of the “threat” of a taser to aid in arresting someone who is resisting arrest. Would you prefer he had threatened her with his gun? Everything she did was provocative, obnoxious and when she refused to get out of the car, resisted arrest, and kicked him, illegal. The scenario of her following the law is horrible?