My dignity is privileged. #SandraBland’s was not | #SayHerName on Blog#42

Former NYPD detective Harry Houck was on CNN to discuss the Sandra Bland case. He said she died because she was arrogant.

Before we watch the clip, let’s step back for a moment and read the mix of transcript of and account prepared by the civil rights group, Colorlines, of Officer Encinia’s arrest of Sandra Bland:

After taking her license to his car, he returned and said, “You seem very irritated.”

She replied, “I am, I really am. I feel like it’s crap what I’m getting a ticket for. I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me. So I moved over and you stopped me. So yeah, I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket.”

He then said, “Do you mind putting out your cigarette, please? If you don’t mind.”

When she replied, “I’m in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?” he quickly replied, “Well you can step on out now.”

When she told him he didn’t have the right to make her leave her vehicle, he opened the door and threatened to remove her. “I’m going to yank you out of here. Get out!” he yelled. When Bland said, “Don’t touch me. I’m not under arrest and you don’t have the right to take me out of my car,” he said she was under arrest.

“Get out of the car! I will light you up!” he said, while pointing a Taser at her. She complied and he took her to the side of the road, out of camera range, where they continued to argue and he cuffed her.

The video also captured a conversation he had about the arrest with a supervisor, in which he said:

I tried to de-escalate her, and it wasn’t working at all. I put the Taser away, I tried talking to her, trying to calm her down, and that was not working.… I’m trying to get her detained…just calm her down, saying, “Stop throwing your arms,” whatnot. She never swung at me, [she was] just flailing, stomping around. And that’s enough, that’s when I detained her.

As you may have read here previously, Harry Houck is not a fan of history and is given to advocating that others forget it.

But that’s the thing, history is what informs us of how the racist mind expects submissiveness from Black bodies, male and female. History is what informs us of raging white men disciplining Black men, women, and children into submission, engaging in killing as an example to keep the larger group in check. This is how slave masters kept their slaves compliant during slavery and the newly formed KKK kept Freedmen in check.

Here we are, in 2015, witnessing a renewed spate of killings of Blacks, well after lynchings ended and civil rights began. Here we are, again, listening to a representative of the majority view in law enforcement that some women, or maybe all women, must be demurring; that if a police officer loses his cool, and he shouldn’t, it’s her fault for provoking him and he is within his rights to arrest her.

Two years ago, outside a chain store and while I was inside my vehicle beginning to move out of the parking spot I was in, a police car lurched forward to block my exit and an officer sprang from his car, demanding to see the papers for my disabled placard. Before I could say anything, he had his flashlight inches from my eyes. I very angrily asked him to move the light away from my line of vision as I am photosensitive. The officer kept shining his light on me and began asking questions about the reason why I have a placard. I raised my voice and repeatedly asked him to remove the flashlight and that I wouldn’t comply with his request until he stopped inflicting pain and blinding me. Eventually, the officer relented. I didn’t answer his questions about my health. They’re none of his business.

I was very annoyed at the officer’s overly aggressive and dangerous stop behind my moving car to prevent me from leaving. I was already moving and could easily have hit his car. I was angered by his overly aggressive and patronizing attitude when addressing me, and the less than polite way he took his time to look at my body. Flashing a bright light into my eyes in a very well lit parking lot was an act of aggression. Not removing it at my request was passive-aggressive behavior on his part. My placard was issued to me based on my doctor’s signature on the DMV form. Why I was issued a placard is none of his business.

Below, Officer Brian Encinia is shown performing another traffic stop right before Sandra Bland’s, on the same video. Watch from time index 0:00 to 0:59. Then, he can be seen driving until he makes the U-turn prior to tailing Sandra Bland.

I am here to write about what happened to me and I was only slightly more pleasant than Ms. Bland. Given her incident and many others we’ve learned about just over the last three years, I feel confident that, had I been Black, I would not have been able to express myself as I did without a negative consequence. No one should end up in jail over a lane change. No one should be arrested, and let’s be honest that it is why Sandra Bland was arrested, for essentially being verbally hostile. No civilian has a duty to be nice or polite. While it helps to be, it shouldn’t be what determines whether one retains one’s constitutionally-granted right of free movement. For as long as we see a reemergence of this kind of institutional racism and allow it to persist, we must fight to end that assumed privilege.

Sandra Bland expressed the anger, anguish, disgust, and disbelief over the injustice Black women in this country have had to endure. In 2015 America, Bland has as much right as I do to be angry and no more obligation than I do to stifle her anger. She is the living example of what Tracy Chapman sang about in “I was born to fight.”

Lyrics, courtesy of New Black Man (In Exile):

Tracy Chapman–“Born To Fight”

They’re tryin’ to take away my pride
By stripping me of everything I own
They’re tryin’ to hurt me inside
And make me into a white man’s drone

But this one’s not for sale
And I was born to fight
I ain’t been knocked down yet
I was born to fight
I’m the surest bet

There ain’t no man no woman
No beast alive that can beat me
‘Cause I’m born to fight

They’re tryin’ to dig into my soul
And take away the spirit of my god
They’re tryin’ to take control
And monitor my every thought

I won’t let down my guard
And I was born to fight
I ain’t been knocked down yet
I was born to fight
I’m the surest bet

There ain’t no man no woman
No beast alive that can beat me
‘Cause I’m born to fight

Bryan Encinia is a racist cop who still has a job in a Texas county that has a very long history of the most violent racist behaviors, as reported by Huffington Post:

Waller Is One Of 28 Counties In The U.S. Still Monitored Under The Voting Rights Act

Two Prominent Black County Officials Said They Were Targeted By Their Colleagues 

The County Saw A Disproportionate Number Of Lynchings In The Late 19th And Early 20th Centuries 

In 2003, The Hempstead Mayor Refused To Ride In A Juneteenth Parade

In 2007, White People Didn’t Want Other Whites Buried Next To Black Folks

“Glenn Smith was suspended — and then fired — from his post as sheriff of Hempstead in 2007 following documented allegations of racial discrimination. Two years later, he became the sheriff of Waller County, a title he still holds.”

Encinia should be prosecuted for the crime of engineering cause for a traffic stop and proceeding to make an illegal arrest. Encinia should be fired and prevented from working in any capacity in law enforcement anywhere within the United States. As far as I am concerned, Encinia’s racism, and not suffocation, is the real cause of Sandra Bland’s death.

Racism has no place anywhere in the culture among employees of our government agencies. Paternalism has no place in policing. Yet, we keep encountering both inside and out of law enforcement, with former ranking officers like Harry Houck feeling free to express views that are not only sexist, racist, and anti-intellectual in nature, but also anti-Democratic. This demonstrates the global failure of all police departments at the recruitment, training, and leadership levels. With an expected 1,100 police killings for 2015, police brutality is now a national emergency. While Officer Encinia may not have killed Sandra Bland himself, she would be alive today were it not for his behavior.

A full transcript of Officer Brian Encinia’s traffic stop, scuffle and arrest was prepared by the Huffington Post:

The video also shows that Encina never actually ordered Bland to put out her cigarette, but rather asked her politely, to which she responded with a question. To which he answered with aggression.

At times, the confrontation becomes chaotic, but a transcript shows Bland answering the trooper’s questions, asserting her rights, and, eventually, directly challenging his treatment of her — an evaluation shared by some police officers who’ve watched the video.

State Trooper Brian Encinia: Hello ma’am. We’re the Texas Highway Patrol and the reason for your stop is because you failed to signal the lane change. Do you have your driver’s license and registration with you? What’s wrong? How long have you been in Texas?

Sandra Bland: Got here just today.

Encinia: OK. Do you have a driver’s license? (Pause) OK, where you headed to now? Give me a few minutes.

(Bland inaudible)

(Encinia returns to his car for several minutes, then approaches Bland again.)

Encinia: OK, ma’am. (Pause.) You OK?

Bland: I’m waiting on you. This is your job. I’m waiting on you. When’re you going to let me go?

Encinia: I don’t know, you seem very really irritated.

Bland: I am. I really am. I feel like it’s crap what I’m getting a ticket for. I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me, so I move over and you stop me. So yeah, I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket, so [inaudible] ticket.

Encinia: Are you done?

Bland: You asked me what was wrong, now I told you.

Encinia: OK.

Bland: So now I’m done, yeah.

Encinia: You mind putting out your cigarette, please? If you don’t mind?

Bland: I’m in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?

Encinia: Well you can step on out now.

Bland: I don’t have to step out of my car.

Encinia: Step out of the car.

Bland: Why am I …

Encinia: Step out of the car!

Bland: No, you don’t have the right. No, you don’t have the right.

Encinia: Step out of the car.

Bland: You do not have the right. You do not have the right to do this.

Encinia: I do have the right, now step out or I will remove you.

Bland: I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself. [crosstalk] I am getting removed for a failure to signal?

Encinia: Step out or I will remove you. I’m giving you a lawful order.

Get out of the car now or I’m going to remove you.

Bland: And I’m calling my lawyer.

Encinia: I’m going to yank you out of here. (Reaches inside the car.)

Bland: OK, you’re going to yank me out of my car? OK, alright.

Bernie Sanders was on MSNBC with Ed Schultz and, as reported by Raw Story, he had these things to say:

“What you saw is an aggressive, overactive police officer who dragged this woman out of her car, assaulted her, sent her to jail for what crime? A minor traffic violation,” Sanders told MSNBC host Ed Schultz. “That happens all over this country, and it especially happens to people of color.”

“Lives are being destroyed, right and left,” he said to Schultz. “And we’ve got to change that.”

Sanders also addressed his face-off with BlackLivesMatter protesters during last weekend’s Netroots Nation conference, admitting that he was taken off guard since he had been invited to discuss immigration reform at a town hall event on Saturday. He subsequently left the event and canceled his scheduled meetings there prior to a campaign event in Phoenix.

“Was I blindsided, was I surprised? Of course I was,” the senator said of the encounter. “On the other hand, the issue that the folks there were raising about institutional racism in America is an absolutely vital issue that has got to be addressed, and I intend to address it.”


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