Remembering Sandra Bland

Five years ago this week, Sandra Bland was found hanging in her Texas jail cell. Three days earlier, a Texas state trooper had stopped her for failing to signal a lane change. Following their heated exchange, the trooper hauled her off to jail. Questions continue to surround Bland’s death which was ruled a suicide.

A grand jury indicted trooper Brian T. Encinia for making a false statement about why he ordered Bland out of her car. Prosecutors later dropped the charges after Encinia agreed to never work in law enforcement again. In 2017, the Texas legislature passed the Sandra Bland Act requiring all police officers to undergo training in de-escalation techniques. Bland’s family received a $1.9 million settlement in a civil lawsuit.

Then last year, cell phone video surfaced, shot by Bland herself, showing her arrest. Her family is now calling for a renewed investigation into her death. Many prominent politicians are also pushing for the case to be reopened.

My guest this week, an LGBTQ+ Methodist Pastor, knew Sandra. Hannah Adair Bonner worked for two years following Bland’s death to bring awareness and justice in the case. I first interviewed Bonner on the 4th anniversary of Bland’s death. As we mark the 5th anniversary, Hannah and I build upon that conversation in light of the racial justice reckoning now facing our country. And for those white allies new to the racial justice movement, Hannah offers valuable insight and perspective.

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