The Moment That Ended Sandra Bland’s Life » VSB

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The Moment That Ended Sandra Bland’s Life

Life is truly a series of moments; and decisions within those moments that can alter or ultimately lead to the end of your life. I watched the entire Sandra Bland arrest video and it made me sick. And it enraged me. And it made me sad because the moment is there. The moment that led to her death. And it didn’t start with her. It started with the police officer. It’s all right there on tape. It’s audible. It’s evident.

That one moment on July 10th led to her hanging in her cell three days later, on July 13th. Hopefully, we’ll find out what truly happened, but I have absolutely no faith in the system. Also, one of the most alarming things about this video that featured many alarming things is listening to the police officers – the arresting officer and the second officer on the scene – describing what they call the attempts to de-escalate the situation. Cops gon’ cop, but the fact is, people in that situation, once escalated – BY THE COP, NO LESS – are going to react the same way. I don’t know the laws of Texas, but I do know that her civil liberties as a person were violated in numerous ways.

But the moment.

The stop happens very routinely. She is driving in front of him and changes lanes without signalling. This is fact. It’s on the video. He decided to pull her over for this reason. We can chalk that up to a slow day. His previous stop didn’t indicate this to be an officer with a vendetta or one who was having a bad day. He made a choice to pull her over as is his right as a member of law enforcment. He goes to the passenger side of her car to get her information. She is non-plussed. He notices. Initially, he let it ride. He is a police officer; he likely understands that nobody likes being pulled over, especially for failure to signal a lane change, no matter how the officer explains it.

A few minutes pass as he runs her information, which obviously comes back clean. He then walks back over to the driver’s side of her car. In the video, this is around the 8:40 mark.

And that’s when it all goes to shit. It’s not when she’s pulled out of the car – which she was – or when she’s being slammed to the ground as she alleges in the background. It’s not when her arm is in pain and she reacts, as any human being would do, especially with tempers already flared.

No, it’s when he decides to toss a micro-aggression her way for absolutely no reason. It happens at the 8:46 mark of the video when he decides to be a dick and ask her, “Are you okay?” to which she responds – irritably – that she’s waiting on him to do his job. He then says to her, “you seem irritated.”

And that is the moment that started it all. Nobody who has ever been pulled over by a cop for what they perceive to be bullshit – a failure to signal a lane change is bullshit, even if it is a ticket-able offense – isn’t irritated. Every time I’ve ever been pulled over, and its been plenty, I’ve been irritated. I’ve been told to get out of my car on three occasions for exhibiting and directing even a modicum of irritation at police officer. It’s an unnecessary question as it’s intended to lord power over the person in the car. He knows she’s irritated. He knows exactly why. There is zero point to asking that question aside from hoping she’ll just suck it up and say, “nothing” and stay quiet. He knows he has both the authority and power to ruin her day (which ends up ultimately ending her life) and he lobs a grenade to see if she’ll throw it back at him.

And she does, by responding with an explanation. She explains that she thought he was coming up behind her quickly so she moved out of the way, which is something that many people would do. It is important to note that he wasn’t actually ticketing her but giving her a warning, probably because he also realizes that pulling somebody over for a failure to signal a lane change is bullshit.

While her response was not delivered in a friendly tone, it wasn’t confrontational, it was irritated. Or no more confrontational than anybody else being pulled over would be when actively engaging a police officer who has pretended like they did you a favor by pulling you over. Then he lobs another grenade at her:

“Are you done?”

At this point, they both have attitudes with one another, but one of them is in a position of power and decides to exert his force by making the request to put out the cigarette; I cannot imagine she was blowing smoke in his face. She was rightly additionally irritated by that request. He, again realizing his position, decided to require her to do more to prove to her that he was, indeed, the one with power in the situation. And that’s where the clock began ticking on her life. We all know that three days later she’d be found hanging in her jail cell.

I don’t see how anybody, law enforcement or civilian, watching what happened next can’t see that she should have never been forced from her car or arrested. It was ego, plain and simple. His ego. She should have never been arrested and placed in a cell in the first place. I don’t care how many “bitch asses” or “pussies” she called him. It never should have gotten that far. But it did. And it’s because this cop decided to passive aggressively poke the bear. Could she have just sucked it up? Possibly. I think most of us, especially those of us who are minorities, probably wouldn’t have engaged the cop at all. But she was irritated, a human right, and she explained herself, because he asked. And he didn’t like it. He is also human and he let his own emotions get the best of him. You cannot convince me otherwise. This Black woman was not kowtowing to his authority. She wanted him to just give her the damn ticket (warning) so they could move on.

(I should note here that I do not think this was racially motivated.)

The hardest thing to watch about the video is the police officers explaining how they aren’t in the wrong and how she assaulted the main cop, who actually assaulted her to begin with as far as I’m concerned. I wanted to yell through the screen that they were lying. I will also never understand being a Black cop. But to hear them blame her for her own situation without ANY recognition that it could be instigated by the other officer is baffling, if not expected. This is the problem with policing; cops don’t think that cops are doing anything wrong and HAVE to act in such fashion. This is why I can’t stand cops now. Individually, a police officer can be a cool person, as an institution I have no faith in police. They never think they’re wrong. They always believe they’re doing what they have to.

They always think they’re justified and the courts have reinforced this. It is always the other person’s fault to the police. Always.

Meanwhile, Sandra Bland, another in a long line of individuals, regardless of color, is dead. I don’t know what happened in that cell, but I know what I saw. And it could have all been avoided if the police officer just told her straight up, I’m giving you a warning, next time use your signal and went about his business. Instead people allege that if she’d have just put out the cigarette we wouldn’t even have a reason to know her name. Putting out that cigarette wouldn’t have saved her life, it was just the convenient reason to pull her out of the car for having an attitude for being pulled over.

Further, the woman I saw in that video wouldn’t end her own life. She had too much spirit. She knew she was going to court and couldn’t wait for her day in court. She couldn’t wait to call a lawyer.

That’s who I saw. What happened between that day and the day she was found hanging in her cell we may never know. But that woman didn’t kill herself. And I cannot be convinced otherwise.

That was a strong, Black woman. That was Sandra Bland.

And in that video, shows the moment where she started to die.

Fuck the police.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at

  • Joyce Blalock Thomas


  • I have so much to say about it all but its so painful. I will write about it soon. I will say that we should pay attention to how people respond to everything about Sandra. It speaks volumes about who they are. I’m taking Mya’s advise on this one. When they show me who they are I’m going to believe them. I’m going to believe that’s just who they are when the first words out of their mouths are ” but she shouldn’t have…” I’m going to believe that they are the same people that will bring up a victims past when they say they have been raped. I’m heart broken. For so many reasons.

    • jbjbjb

      “When they show me who they are I’m going to believe them. I’m going to believe that’s just who they are”

      It’s hard to do at first…

    • blogdiz

      The Sad thing is most of the people who like to talk about respect and ‘but she shouldn’t have…” Know Good and well that white people often act this way and worse with very different outcomes.
      Deep down what these folks are really saying is well White people are entitled to act this way cuz they are white and you know “real ” Americans but black people really need to know their place.

      • collegechick

        So true. I work in retail and had a white woman being rude and nasty and going off on me for an half hour because she thought some hoolahoops she wanted to buy were cheaper than what they were. I could have snapped on her, like an emotional human being has the right to do when someone is irate and calling them out their name, but I didn’t. I took a deep breath and remained calm the entire time and the woman told me after it was all said and done that she appreciates me helping her and dealing with her attitude. Now if she has a human right to be mad and irritated over the cost of hoolahoops, then Sandra had the right to be irritated over a ticket. And like I took a deep breath, remained calm, and did my job, the officer should have too. No excuse.

  • We should stop calling them cops or LEOs and call them what they are: justified bullies.

    • But we have to pass laws to improve the social order! That’s the only way to push social change is through the law, right? ;-) That’s why as much as I don’t like the Right, I have a certain respect for them. The Right just wants to maintain the social order by any means necessary. The Left wants to improve the social order by pushing their values through the police, all while pretending it’s for the sake of progress, not control.

      • You know when I moved to Nigeria in the 90’s, I was staying at my grandparents place, where the neighbors owned a bunch of goats. Anyone who grew up in Nigeria or has bred goats in a farm is well aware of the saying, “As stubborn as a goat.” These goats used to leave the neighbors home and literally come on my grandparents property and just take dumps for no reason, and then you had to beat them with sticks to get them off, as soon as you turned your back and left, these goats would come again and take their dumps again until they got fed.

        Cops are goats. Their nature is in f*cking with people and sh*ting on them, no matter how many times they get caught and punished for doing it. This isn’t being anti-cop or anything, this is universally known and understood internationally, there’s no nation where people hear the name of police and are thinking “hero” or “upstanding citizen”, regardless of how many reruns of the TV show cops are shown on their Satellite TVs. Which is why thinking or hoping that these kind of people will help you maintain a social order is a tremendous lapse of judgement. Look how dumb the cop in the Sandra Bland video was, he blatantly lied while the dash cam was on…what? He didn’t think given the social climate that this whole thing would get reviewed? Reminds me of MLK strategically avoiding protests in Southern Towns that had slightly intelligent Police Commissioners or Sheriffs – dumb ones like Bull Connor were much more beneficial for the movement

        • Word. I read the story of the Albany Campaign and wondered how in the world did that police chief not get elected governor? He was the only cat that figured out how to shut down the Civil Rights Movement without guns, and yet no other racists hollered in his direction? They weren’t too bright down there.

          • Arrogance and lack of respect beat out common sense.

            Kind of seems like the M.O. of most police officers when dealing with black people.

      • h.h.h.

        is this the social order that you desire?

        do you think there could be a better social order?

        • I’m being sarcastic. The social order shouldn’t be, point blank period. We should have as much anarchy as humanly possible.

          • The idea that a social order exists and must be maintained is rooted in the aristocratic idea that if the vast majority of people were left to themselves, civilization will collapse. The funny thing is that the people who usually make open statements about this, are usually people who think they would make up the elite class of overseers, not knowing that by openly saying things like that, they are already showing that they are where they belong: among the masses.

      • right on point that’s why the left will never automatically get my vote again.

  • TLati

    Well written PJ. She isn’t the first but I pray she is the last and like her sister stated today in that press conference, may her name never be forgotten! #SayHerName #SandraBland We should not allow her life be swept under the rug!

  • Michael Harrison

    Panama, your words are the liquor that I’m too done on right now. When is enough enough?… These expositions that seem to repeat like bad reruns are both small victories of exposing the truth but simultaneously driving that too familiar dagger of hatred and white supremacy into the ever so raw flesh of the Black American psyche. I feel like in the the bedroom of my mind, Sandra and I share the same sentiments and convictions… To see her do what I would do in the exact situation is equally liberating and mortifying. “Two shots in the dark… now Huey’s dead… indeed”….

    • panamajackson

      I think thats whats most biting, I could see myself feeling exactly how she did. I’ve definitely reacted like that towards a cop before. I don’t know that I would now.

  • It is possible that she was profiled.

    There is another video that shows the cop going in the opposite direction, seeing her car and making a turn

    • panamajackson

      It is possible, but I’m not ready to make that full leap yet. I would argue that she probably got pulled over more likely for having out of state plates – that’s happened to me in NY a few times – and committing a minor infraction.

      Anything is possible. Don’t get me wrong. It just seems like it could be a reach to me.

  • SuperStrings

    Racism mandates a social order, and every interaction with law enforcement is about the imposition of said social order. Let’s stop expecting police to de-escalate situations. Police aren’t trained to de-escalate situations, they’re trained to dominate and establish control of a situation. Their whole purpose is to forcefully maintain the social order. That means that every situation must end with them winning, no matter how irrational or savage the methods. The courts are there to legally uphold the social order, so their actions will always reinforce the methods officers use to ensure that they stay winning. In this case, the officer required Sandra Bland to acknowledge her place in the social order. She refused. It cost her her life. If we want to change our place in the social order (as Sandra Bland did), many more of us will pay the same price.

    • I’m also tight with the well-off White people who back us in public, yet collude in private to create a system that makes us their permanent pets. The upshot is that they’ve convinced a whole lot of Black people that such an arrangement is for the best. LOL

    • NOLA_Shawn

      You speak ?% TRUTH! I’m so sad and sick and tired and hurt and mad right now that I don’t know what to do with myself. I am Sandra Bland and that very well could have been me in that moment. #SayHerName

  • eyecande

    PJ, when you say you don’t believe it was racially motivated, do you mean you believe the officer would’ve treated anyone that he perceived as combative the same way?

    • Kema

      I cant imagine he would have treated a white woman in the same manner.

    • panamajackson

      That part I don’t know. What I meant by that was that I don’t think the early stages were because she was Black. I think it was because it was a person who showed him any attitude at all. Of course, I don’t know. If I didn’t watch taht video so many times maybe I’d feel differently.

      But I watched it WANTING to feel with my whole heart that it was, and I just didn’t. Honestly, I didnt. Now, the aggression he pursued after the cigarette request, I think that’s more likely racially motivated.

      So I needed to be more clear. I think she got stopped for having out of state plates on some, “welcome to Texas, we act right ’round here” things got out of hand b/c she wasn’t excited to receive a ticket…and things probably did go as left as they could b/c it was a Black woman not respecting a white cop.

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Do you think when he saw Illinois plates + black person = potential problem ever crept into the cops mind and impacted the interaction? I know that was the case when I was running up and down I95 in college when I crossed the Mason Dixon line.

        • Jennifer

          I understand PJ’s point. He could have seen Illinois plates and/or black person and reacted. He11, he could have had extra feels about her being a woman and speaking to him like that. I love my home state, but I know plenty of men there who wouldn’t want to hear “back-talk” from a woman (black, brown, or white) like Sandra Bland’s. In 2015. Waller County is only an hour outside of Houston where I grew up.

      • You nailed it. In a lot of small towns, you could be a Mayflower descendent on both sides and get stopped if you have out of state plates. The stop wasn’t racial… But the escalation was.

      • towninc

        i agree to a point. I think some of these cops stay in a constant mode of ego tripping. While driving alone in around Monroe, Louisiana in 2002/2003 i got pulled over by a black, male, crazy cop. He started banging on my trunk, walked around to the hood and started banging on it. I rolled my window down, scared and young at the time and asked what was going on? He told me I was suppose to get out of my car in the state of LA when pulled over (something about it’s dangerous for cops to walk up to cars). I looked at him like he was the fool he was, said how was i suppose to know that it was the law (i didn’t live there) which simply infuriated him even more. I took my ticket and kept it moving, but i’ll never forget that day.

  • nillalatte

    What did I say to get in time out? :( Disqus, I banish you to the ends of the earth!

  • Since the whole thing with Eric Garner popped off a year ago, and these incidents have hit the public eye more, I’ve had a lot of talk with cops and people who, because of the nature of their job, have to deal with cops more than the average person. Two things have become clear. One is that the average cop is completely and totally ignorant of how Black people live. They’re going off of assumptions of assumptions. They don’t even have the perspective to even know that they’re going off of BS racist assumptions, so they feel that they’re just doing what they know. Because racism is systemic, they’ll just take what they hear about Black people generally being scary and aggressive because they don’t have anything else to go by. After all, they likely grew up in a working class White neighborhood where there weren’t Black people around for any purpose. What else do they know?

    The other thing I’ve heard is that because of this fear, cops tolerate bullies waaaay more than the average job. Their thinking is that yeah, this guy is a jerk, but when ish gets real, he’ll be the one to let the chopper spray. That also kind of explains why a lot of Black cops get sucked up in the foolishness. If the racist @sshole is the same one that saved you from the low-level stick-up kid who tried to clap you, you’re 84.56% more likely to let the dude ride out. That doesn’t make it right, but it does make them human. You’ll tolerate BS arrests and Black kids getting bodied because your suburban a$$ can’t tell friend from foe, and you have some pretty legit reasons to think one of them might kill you.

    I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying it’s real.

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