Friday, July 31, 2015

Sandra Bland, killed by slave catchers

Here's my latest, crossposted from Kasama.

A 21st-century slave patrol murdered Sandra Bland

#SayHerName #SandraBland
#SayHerName #SandraBland

Let the truth be known: Sandra Bland, an activist in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, was kidnapped and murdered by modern day slave catchers. Her “crime” was daring to act like a human being in the face of the arbitrary and brutal violence of white supremacy and male authority.

Watch the videos of her outrageous kidnapping and weep for what you know is coming. Watch the video of a brave and self-assured woman menaced, brutalized, and thrown to the ground, and rage against the horror documented on 21st-century technology. Look for the crude attempts by the authorities and their captive media to edit, to mislead, to lie, to distort, to deflect, to assassinate Sandra Bland’s character. But don’t be fooled. Sandra Bland did not kill herself.

For moving her car out of the way of an approaching Texas pig patrol car, Sandra Bland was assaulted, dragged off to jail for three days, and murdered in her cell. For insisting on her right to be upset with being treated like shit in the midst of a random encounter she was tarred as “uppity” and marked for death. Her voice is clear in the videos of her kidnapping—both the edited one released by the pigs and the bystander video showing her flat on the ground—and in the message she left from prison on a friend’s phone: she was disgusted with what was happening to her but frustrated at being powerless to stop it.

In her autobiography, liberated Black freedom fighter Assata Shakur presciently warns us about how white supremacy will seek to absolve itself of responsibility for the deaths of its captives: “In prisons it is not at all uncommon to find a prisoner hanged or burned to death in his cell. No matter how suspicious the circumstances, these deaths are always ruled ‘suicides.’ The are usually Black inmates, considered to be a ‘threat to the orderly running of the prison.’ They are usually among the most politically aware and socially conscious inmates in the prison.”

Graphic from Sandra Bland's Facebook page showing Dylann Roof at left.
Graphic from Sandra Bland’s Facebook page showing Dylann Roof at left.

We may never learn how the pigs killed Sandra Bland, but even if the dubious and suspicious official narrative about suicide by garbage bag turns out to be other than the time-worn lie it appears to be, the pigs at the Waller County Jail are still her murderers: Sandra Bland did not do this to herself.
We don’t know that the authorities knew who Sandra Bland was before they kidnapped her, but her presence in social media was out front and they certainly figured it out once they had her behind bars. Her Facebook page bore the slogan “Now legalize being Black in America” with a banner illustration contrasting how racist terrorist Dylann Roof was treated after being arrested (with a cheeseburger) to how a Black man is treated (bloodied and beaten). In a series of videos, Bland was outspoken against Police violence, white privilege and racial injustice, and spoke movingly about a cause she felt strongly about:
I was asked, was I trying to racially unite or racially incite. Well, honestly I feel that my goal is to racially unite. Now, in the process of doing that some people will be incited, i.e., upset, because based on the history of America it is not good when it comes to Black and white people. But I want us to try and get past that and that is ultimately impossible until certain people realize that they were born into a certain kind of privilege.… Black people are gonna be mad when we see our people gunned down and murdered.”
It’s a familiar pattern, well known to the communities preyed upon by the death squads in blue, but now plain for anyone with eyes to see: A Black person encounters so-called law enforcement, and winds up dead.

Sandra Bland. Kindra Chapman. Sam DuBose. Tamir Rice. Freddie Grey. Walter Scott. Eric Garner. Michael Brown. Akai Gurley. Charly Keunang. Shantel Davis. Kimani Gray. Ramarley Graham. Kyam Livingston. #SayTheirNames and grit your teeth, for these names are only a few of untold hundreds of innocent Black people murdered by the modern slave catchers year after year, most with complete legal impunity.
Show me in American history where ‘all’ lives have mattered. Show me where there have been liberty and justice for all, like that fucking pledge of allegiance we love to say….if ‘all’ lives mattered would there need to be a hashtag for #BlackLivesMatter?” —Sandra Bland in #SandySpeaks
Let us be clear, again. So-called law enforcement is not some tree bearing good and rotten apples: it is a noxious, poisonous growth that must be uprooted and destroyed. The police are not acting in an aberrant fashion: they are doing what they were designed to do, enforcing the structures of white supremacy that maintain the capitalist order. The rampant lethal violence of these modern day slave patrols against communities of color is fully sanctioned by the state despite being documented not only by brave citizen copwatchers but on the state’s own bodycams and dashcams. The police reform schemes of liberal politicians like New York City’s mayor DeBlasio and President Obama are revealed to be nothing other than feel-good window dressing for the same old repressive business as usual.

Graphic from Sandra Bland's Facebook page.
Graphic from Sandra Bland’s Facebook page.

We are heartened by the growth of the #BlackLivesMatter movement now confronting racist terror across the country. It is exciting to see activists from communities of color, notably led by women like the martyred Sandra Bland, take the lead in combatting this country’s structural white supremacy, confronting politicians, ripping down confederate flags, defacing racist monuments, building networks of support and discussing the implications of the deep intertwining of racism and capitalism. More than one activist in this movement has pointed out that the first flag of slavery in this country was not the confederate stars and bars, but the stars and stripes itself, and we hope these are steps in a path that brings this movement to an understanding of the need for revolution, the abolition of white supremacist institutions and structures, and the destruction of capitalism itself. This movement will not soon be silent.

In the words of Sandra Bland’s mother, Once I put this baby in the ground, I’m ready…This means war.”

#SayHerName #AvengeSandraBland #SmashSlavePatrols

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