Say Her Name

SayHerName01

“There are seven days in the week and someday isn’t one of them.”

Please say her name. If it was me, I would want you to say mine.

We don’t have the luxury of being entangled in Meek Mill vs. Drake battles, if Nicki Minaj is experiencing racism by her controversial ‘Anaconda’ or ‘Feeling Myself’ videos not receiving MTV VMA nominations, on whether rapper Safaree is gay for twerking, on whether Caitlyn Jenner is a hero for revealing his story to the world. We need to speak on the countless Blacks losing their lives to brutality, oppression, racism and defeat by this pervasive system of racism that runs rampant in America.

“If we want a change, we can really truly make it happen” – Sandra Bland

I didn’t come here to speculate whether or not Sandra Bland was killed or committed suicide. I decided to use my platform because I have been arrested and experienced police brutality. I’ve never publicly discussed the details of my arrest or abuse until I read the details of her death. Her death haunts me. I know how it feels to have a racist officer in my face lying through his teeth with arrogance and pride because he knew his badge protected him and my Black skin automatically made me guilty. I like Sandra Bland, when arrested, didn’t have on my collegiate apparel, I wasn’t looking polite and friendly and I wasn’t even trying to disguise my distaste for me being questioned in the first place. I was angry. I was mad. I was filled with rage when I had an officer scream at me in my face when I knew that I was in the right. I was married at the time of my arrest and my husband and I had an argument. He called the police while we were outside in front of family and all because he wanted to leave and I had both sets of car keys. He stated “My wife won’t give me the keys”. Yes, does he feel guilty for what he did? I’m sure he does. I’m sure in a million years, he never expected that a supposedly mediating visit by the police to make me give him his keys would end up with his 4 month pregnant wife being tazed, arrested and sent to jail, all because we couldn’t solve a dispute on our own. Yes the incident was very stupid as it was a power struggle. At the time, I was 22 years old and I couldn’t drive. I was tired of my husband constantly leaving with the car and I wanted him to hear me out. I was arrogant because I knew the police would tell my husband, that I had no obligation to give him the keys, because we were married, it was our car and that he should listen to me. I guess my ex-husband thought that the police would have said he was right and that I should give him the keys, which in essence they did. But me being completely irrate at the entire situation, when the officer asked me to hand over my keys I threw his set of keys over a fence and had my set of keys in my pocket. Before I knew it he was screaming in my face and I was tazed. He never knew that I had another set of keys in my pocket that I could have handed over to him. I was tazed twice because I didn’t lose consciousness or fall to the ground immediately, so the officer I guess wanted to physically show me that I was defeated. The officer who I was in an argument with didn’t taze me. No, it was his racist partner who had no idea that I was on a holiday break in my senior year at Howard University. He had no idea that I was 4 months pregnant. He had no idea that I had no criminal history and he had no idea that I could sue the City of West Palm Beach Police Department for everything that’s worth because I did nothing wrong and their abuse of power put two lives at stake. After the officers heard me and my family scream that I’m pregnant why did you taze me, they both started whispering and looking worried and confused. They immediately knew it was no way that the court was going to believe their story that I hit the officer. The partner was behind the officer. So why was he so ready to taze me?

The officers knew once they tazed me I had to be arrested. There was no turning back. How could they justify brutal force? Why would a pregnant woman who is not visibly showing hit an officer? That’s what I kept asking myself. I never hit that officer, because I knew something about me and my body that he didn’t. I knew that if I was hit with a ‘sick stick’ that both my baby and I could be harmed. I never knew they had tazers. But I knew that I had sense enough to not hit an officer. I don’t care how mad I was. They knew their story wouldn’t work. So they asked me about 4 times before I got placed in the police car, “Are you sure that you’re pregnant?”

When I got to the holding cell, I will never forget what I heard them say as it was a very small room and I was the only person in there “We have to charge her with something”. Those words ring in my ears to this day. Ten years later and I can still hear him say “We have to charge her with something”. Was the whole power struggle worth it? No. Should I have handed him the keys? Yes. Was it a very ignorant and arrogant thing to do to challenge a police officer’s authority? Yes. However, all of my actions never justified a police officer tazing, arresting or pinning charges on me. I was so tired of seeing police abuse their power and it infuriated me to no end that in front of 15-20 people the police once again were abusing their power. All of the witnesses knew I never touched him. They all were there screaming it.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I finally went to the jail, I learned that I had been arrested for a felony charge and a misdemeanor. The  felony was ‘assault on a law enforcement officer’ and the misdemeanor was ‘domestic battery’. I could have died at that moment. I could have just left my body right then. When they told me what I was charged with I was so shocked, I must have asked the lady to repeat it 3 times. I couldn’t believe that not only was I unlawfully tazed and arrested, but I had been arrested under fraudulent charges. It was their word against mine. I was in jail for about 24 hours and you can imagine every thought that entered my mind. I was always an honor student, top of my class, Who’s Who in college, previously a resident assistant, I won trophies and awards my entire life, but somehow I ended up in jail over something so stupid and a victim of police brutality because I was Black and a woman.

By the time I went to court they entered everything as a ‘nolle prossed’. Meaning that they didn’t process the charges. It was God. He delivered me. However, I had to interview with the VP of Admissions of Howard University before I could be readmitted into school because I had an arrest on my record. I was now considered a potential danger to society. I had to tell Human Resource departments to Fortune 500 companies the truth of an arrest and pray that I would be hired regardless and I was. I had to wait before I could have my record expunged. I did and it was. Why didn’t I sue? I was scared. I just wanted my life back. I just wanted to be back in school. I didn’t want to stay at home in Florida and go through legal proceedings while pregnant and risk the opportunity of never going back to finish school at Howard. I wanted my life to return back to some normalcy. I prayed for a healthy baby. I just asked God to help ensure my baby was safe and healthy and that I returned back to school. I didn’t want to delay my life trying to sue two racist individuals with badges.

“I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate – it’s apathy. It’s not giving a damn.” – Leo Buscaglia

Should I have sued? That’s why I’m typing this message. It haunts me to hear that Sandra Bland was going to start work in a couple of days and she experienced the same racism that I did and was left wondering all of those questions. I’m sure her mind imagined so many different ways the situation could have panned out. I’m sure she thought of things she could have said differently or could have done differently. She was left in a cell where officers had time to plot and plan. My ex-husband’s family was there and was calling, they were checking in and they wanted answers. They were witnesses. I just wonder if because she was out of town and no one could immediately get up there if they plotted and planned to silence her. What if I didn’t have family there when I was arrested? Would they have conspired to silence me? What if she didn’t hang herself and it was all a cover up because she was going to do what I didn’t have the courage to do. She was going to expose them. She was going to make them pay. She was going to stand up not only for herself, but also others.

It’s public record that Sandra Bland was involved in the #BlackLivesMatter discussion. She openly discussed that we needed to use our voices against racism. She openly pleaded for us to move. Now she’s dead. Now she’s silent. Now we don’t know the truth. I wonder if I had sued if it would have saved her life and the lives of others who have been found hanging in their jail cells after an unlawful arrest. Suicide never came to my mind while I was in jail. Never. I wanted them to pay and then I wanted normalcy. I never wanted to end my life. She reminds me so much of myself, but I think she was stronger. I think she would have fought. I know she’s fighting now and she’s saying “Make them pay!” Join the fight. Post about her. Watch videos of her asking for justice. Tweet, Facebook, Instagram and video your disgust of police brutality and racism. Say her name #SandraBland #SayHerName

 

This is the entire video of Sandra Bland’s arrest that is view-able from the dashcam published by the Texas Department of Public Safety (explicit language the first 16 minutes)

Please watch with caution and remembering what you are about to hear and see and what you hear the officer say in his explanation all recorded on the dashcam around 23 min mark and beyond of what happened.    

  • A question you may be wondering is why did he arrest her outside the view of the dashcam?
  • Why did the officer immediately say ‘You look annoyed’ as soon as he came back to her car?
  • Why did he then ask her to unlight her cigarette?
  • Why does it seem that he was looking to create an altercation?
  • Why is he immediately sounding worried and scared explaining all of this to his superior all recorded on the dashcam?

 

Here’s a chilling video in her own words about police brutality….    

#SandraBland in her own words. #sayhername #sandra #ourlivesmatter #justiceforsandra #iamnotoneofthem A video posted by val jackson (@mizzzzjackson) on