THE SECOND DEADLY ASSAULT ON SANDRA BLAND
Attacks on character, despite evidence of multiple physical injuries prior to her death in autopsy report, which declared it suicide by hanging.
By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
July 30, 2015
It started within moments after Sandra Bland was found hanging in a Waller County jail cell. And it hasn’t let up for one moment since her dubious death. The “it” is the non-stop litany of veiled and not so veiled hints, innuendoes, digs, and crass, snide, accusing comments, remarks, slander and outright lies about Bland’s activities before, during and after her death.
Here’s a brief checklist of the defamatory, self-serving litany of slanders against her. She was uncooperative with Texas Highway Patrolman, Brian Encinia. Her cigarette could have posed a potentially dangerous weapon. She smoked marijuana before and after her arrest. She had serious mental issues that made her suicidal. She had a block sized chip on her shoulder against law enforcement given her involvement with Black Lives Matter and her alleged diatribe against law enforcement on her Facebook page.
She was alive and in good spirits when she entered her jail cell. This comes courtesy of a video that Texas officials released to counter allegations that she was dead before she was booked. The video has been challenged both on the timing of its release and authenticity. Then to bolster their case that there was no foul play in her death, a co-inmate magically appeared to corroborate her supposed suicidal state.
For one brief moment Waller County prosecutors said that they’d investigate her death as a murder. It was just that, brief. It got tossed in the midst of their pile on of allegations about her alleged bad conduct and state of mind and a forensic finding that concluded that she died at her own hands.
Above: Sandra Bland’s family announces federal lawsuit in her death. Her autopsy report DOES show possible violence committed on her prior to her death, including a contusion on her upper right shoulder, multiple scabbed abrasions on right upper back, contusion and multiple small scabbed healing abrasions on right elbow, contusion on left forearm, scabbed healing abrasions on both wrists, all with “underlying red-brown subcutaneous hemorrhage.” It is open to question when these injuries occurred. See autopsy report at Sandra-Bland-Autopsy-Report.compressed.
The predictable assault on Bland has three aims. The first is to stop in its tracks the widespread call for a full bodied Justice Department probe into Bland’s death. This can only be accomplished through the second aim. That is to deconstruct her as a bad behaving, chip-on-her shoulder, unstable black woman, and not the sympathetic victim that supporters and some in the press depict her as.
The other aim is to exonerate in this order: Encinia, Texas Highway Patrol officials, Waller County jail officials, and the Waller County District Attorney’s office. All have been fingered as being complicit in her death either directly or through their gross negligence and desperate effort to avoid a fair and impartial probe into the cause of her death.
If enough mud can be tossed on Bland to cast doubt and suspicion about her character and motives, the hope is that the issue will quietly go away.
None of this should surprise. The assault on Bland follows the same script used in the dubious and controversial killings of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and countless other young African-Americans who have died or been killed under questionable circumstance after encounters with police.
The pantheon of stereotypes and negative typecasting the script relies on has been time tested. It’s the shortest of short steps to think that if an innocent such as Bland fits the car`icature of the terrifying image that much of the public still harbors about young black males and increasingly females as witnessed by the edge up in assaults on them and a rash of their mysterious deaths in jail cells, then that image seems real, even more terrifying, and the consequences are just as deadly.
The flip side of this is that police, prosecutors and jail officials in Bland’s death hold the major cards. They can leak, publish, and put on display for the press and the public supposedly incontrovertible evidence to make their case that the circumstances surrounding her death are exactly as officials say it is. They are secure in the knowledge that any evidence real or circumstantial that contradicts the official version can be dismissed out of hand as pure speculation, hearsay or is driven by an anti-police agenda.
There’s one other trump card that officials can play to boost their Simon pure innocence in a death such as Bland’s. That is the bulging numbers of blacks in America’s jails and prisons seem to reinforce the wrong-headed perception that crime and violence in America invariably comes with a young, black face such as Bland’s. Martin, Brown, and Garner were roundly vilified for having run-ins with the law, or being a border line school delinquent.
In Bland’s case, she had no criminal record to wave in the press and public’s face. So they settled on her alleged emotional instability to prove her deviant behavior. It is crucial to plant this in the public’s mind since she did not die from a provable and observable police bullet or chokehold as in the case of Brown and Garner.
The clamor for the truth about whom or what killed Bland won’t go away. This insures that Texas officials will spin out more new “revelations” to the press and public about Bland’s character. The second deadly assault on Bland will continue unabated.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent MSNBC contributor. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KTYM 1460 AM Radio Los Angeles and KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.
WORD ON THE STREET IS MURDER
©2015 Mitchell Jon MacKay
July 30, 2015
CLEARLY THERE’S SOME BUZZWORD going around that it’s alright for cops to shoot anybody they might want to.
The latest is a University of Cincinnati patrolman shooting of an unarmed civilian. We can read all about it on Google and You tube replete with video by the officer’s own camera. Chaotic, yes, but we get the gist of it, dead motorist, cop now indicted for murder in the first degree, which is pretty obvious from the video. Cops have been inculcated with the drudge that they can do anything they want to do now and get away with it.
Statistics say that only one in one thousand killer cops is indicted. But apparently this is changing before our very eyes, thanks to video cameras, or so it might appear.
The details are commonplace, a traffic stop gone awry. Paranoid cop feels threatened, starts shooting randomly, same old same old story. But now the cop is charged with Murder One, different slant on the same old story. Times might be changing at least a little. Poor baby cop; how does it feel? How does it feel to be on the other end of the gun barrel? Send him up the river for life, whatever. He deserves it for so many others that shoot before thinking.
That grapevine that seems to have broadcast the clear signal for cops to start shooting before asking questions might have some shield lately if the backlash continues via media coverage and the almighty video camera. But we have to pause and consider the question: how did this happen? Theories have been purported but no real answers are forthcoming. Cops kill and maim with impunity so often now that it’s a plague upon the populace and cops are laughing all the way to retirement, except for those few hapless ones that don’t have enough sense to cover their tracks.
This phenomenon has been discussed, dismissed, dissed, dissected, directed, disseminated, misdirected, divided, decided and circumscribed so often that it’s a misnomer and a conundrum already. It’s like any advantage gained illicitly, it only gets worse with wear and tear.
Cops watch as other cops are indicted, tried and acquitted and figure it’s alright to just go ahead and do what they really want to do, which is get the bad guys, and if some not so bad guys get in the way get them too. These cops are not psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, doctors or lawyers; they’re simple people who watch football on Sunday, golf on Monday, Hockey on Tuesday, go bowling on Wednesday, bingo on Thursday, play pool on Friday night, go to the racetrack on Saturday if the wife hasn’t some activity planned for them.
Simple emulation seems to be the answer. That means that which they have gotten away with they now accept as status quo. Doubtless many are now reconsidering their stance since a few officers of the law have been indicted lately. That must have sent a shudder of recognition into the ranks.
They could actually go to trial and actually thereafter go to prison. Most places there’s no bail for murder so they’d have to sit in jail for months awaiting trial &c, not a pleasant thought when other jail inmates know they’re cops. So they’d be stuck in confinement segregation for those months if deemed necessary for crowd control. It scares them a little but apparently not enough yet to deter their hauteur in uniform.
The University of Cincinnati ex-cop is out on $1 million bail bond now but he’s going to trial for murder one. Where he got $100,000 to make 10% is not known. The two New Mexico cops who killed the homeless man are under investigation by the FBI and the NM Attorney General. Again video cameras present the evidence. Police are in a Catch-22 circumstance now: they need evidence against people but it might prove to be evidence against police.
A curious development transpired over the course of the latter twentieth century. Police felt pressured to gain convictions for high-profile crimes. This was accomplished by upgraded third-degree type interrogations of suspects. Upgrading was due to legislation limiting police procedures. Suspects could no longer be legally questioned under bare lightbulbs for hours or days but had to be accorded Miranda Rights and supposedly humane treatment.
What usually transpired was a pre-drawn confession ready to sign and after days of interrogation many did, most often with promises of leniency even if they were in fact innocent. It looked like the easy out to many under arrest for questioning. We are seeing the results of this with the mounting number of exonerations from wrongful conviction, restitutions now counted at $1 billion.
As to the effect on police work, this remains inchoate at present. Surely the officers nationwide are watching these developments closely. But then four New York officers were acquitted of gunning down an unarmed man even though the venue of trial was moved. That leaves cops in an odd position: public ire juxtaposed with jury nullification. Public opinion is always mixed and intractable on each side with little rationale of worth. Expert testifiers will substantiate anything they’re willing to be paid to say. Cops of course note this every day and react accordingly.
If a spate of arrests of police personnel should ensue they’ll curtail their actions to whatever extent the chiefs advise. If cops continue to shoot with impunity the country will continue to be the Wild West it purports to be. Cop killers, as opposed to killer cops, will proliferate. It is amusing in a macabre sense to witness the sentimentality of police when one of their own dies in battle but ne’er a tear at wrongful deaths or false conviction of the public. That would be a definition of “double-standard”.
Thus life is cheap again. Despite constitutional rights and guarantees, the US has descended into the maelstrom of lawlessness again. You not only have the broad spectrum of crooks and killers but the badges and ties of the supposed good guys to dodge. That’s the way of life under any tyrannical government, and that’s what the US has become.
No doubt there’s an apt Thomas Jefferson quote covering this, just as doubtless as his hundreds of slaves and descended black relatives. As sociologist George Gilder has writ: “Hypocrisy is indeed the tribute paid by vice to virtue. Hypocrisy makes us better than we are”. Cops will continue to kill people because it’s deeply engrained in their “culture”. They’re already researching ways to cover up misdeeds, tweak videos, seek other means of negating what is obvious & c.
Where this leads cannot be surmised yet. We can anticipate the worst and thereby be not disappointed. If video is utilized in all police surveillance, arrests, and interrogations there might be seen some adherence to propriety but just as certainly there will be superseding of these rules. A scenario might present itself of that interrogation sequence thence reenacted for the camera with guarantees of leniency should the defendant decide to cooperate, the former video destroyed, the latter preserved, the defendant’s bruises healed or covered & c. Sure, that would occur, always had, just the continuum of getting around the law.
It’s still the Wild West out here in America. This is the way we seem to like it collectively else the law would not be so arrogant as to shoot first, ask later, and get away with it. Those wild and wooly old-school outlaws and gangsters are now modern law and order representatives, or flaw and disorder as the case may be. Those bastions of redoubt known as police stations and courthouses are hideouts now conjuring criminal activities.
Of course it’s all euphemized as bureaucratic social order but many know otherwise. It’s deadly out there now. It’s legal murder. It’s never admitted, always Orwellian linguistically, but it’s as bad as lynching days and street gangs. The US hasn’t gotten better or freer. This is who we are: liars and murderers.
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