The Current

Sandra Bland's death ignites Black Women's Lives Matter movement

The deaths of black men have led to thousands rallying around the #BlackLivesMatter message. But the suspicious death of Sandra Bland, a black woman in police custody, has received little media attention. Activists are rallying behind a new message - that Black Women's Lives Matter Too.
Sandra Bland was 28-years-old when she was found dead in a Texas jail cell on Monday. She'd been arrested three days earlier, after being pulled over for a traffic violation. (Facebook)

Freddie Gray...Mike Brown...Eric Garner...Tamir Rice.  All young, black men who met untimely deaths, involving police.
And all familiar names -- symbols of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

But less so with these faces and names ... 

(From top left to right)

Rekia Boyd / Aiyanna Stanley-Jones / Michelle Cusseaux / Kayla Moore
Miram Carey / Shelley Frey / Tanisha Anderson / Alexia Christian
Meagan Hockaday / Mya Hall / Janisha Fonville / Natasha McKenna

​Just some of the black women to have died after encounters with police in the US, though their cases haven't sparked the same type of media attention. 

 And this week, there's one new name on that list -- Sandra Bland. She was 28-years-old when she was found dead in a Texas jail cell on Monday. She'd been arrested three days earlier, after being pulled over for a traffic violation. 

It was an encounter captured by a witness, on video:

How a traffic infraction led to a jailhouse death remains a mystery. Those who knew Sandra Bland are not buying the official story that she committed suicide.  At a press conference yesterday, her family said the situation was "unfathomable." They're calling for more answers.

That's what we're looking for this morning as well. 

Shaun King is on the board of Justice Together - an organization that tracks cases of police brutality.  He is also the justice reporter with the website  He was in Atlanta, Georgia.   

We reached out to the Texas State Police and the Waller County Sherif's Department for comment and they referred us to press releases.  The one from The Texas Department of Public Safety says in part, "After making contact with the driver, Sandra Bland, she became argumentative and uncooperative. She was subsequently taken into custody for assault on a public servant. Waller County EMS was also called to the scene, but Bland refused a medical review by EMS. "

The release from the Waller County Sheriff's Department says in part, "Sheriff R. Glenn states that any loss of life is a tragic incident and, while the investigation is being conducted by outside agencies, the Waller County Sheriff's Office will continue to observe the daily operations of the jail to always look for improvements and / or preventions of these incidents."

Sandra Bland's name may be familiar now. She is the fifth woman who has died in police custody in the United States this year. 

To find out more about other women and why we hear so little about them, we were joined by:

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins, Sonya Buyting, Ines Colabrese and Sujata Berry.

In case you missed it, our colleagues at As It Happens spoke with Sandra Bland's pastor last night. 

Pastor questions whether Sandra Bland's death in Texas police custody was really suicide


♦ Sheriff involved in Sandra Bland death fired - Shaun King, Daily KOS
♦ Sandra Bland's loved ones want to know more - Huffington Post
♦ Family wary after Naperville woman's death in Texas jail - Chigaco Tribune