either cripple me, or have me throw up my defenses. I don’t know which yet because no one can
predict the fight or flight response to eminent danger, and that is how I have grown to feel about the
police in America at this time. I am filled with fear when I see them driving down the street.
don’t have. Sometimes when my eyes meet theirs I wonder what they’re thinking about me, and I
wonder if they are pondering my perception of them as well.
I don’t like interacting with the police, never have. In fact, my very first encounter with a police officer
was a very odd one. I had just gotten my license and was driving at night. The neighborhood I lived in at
the time in San Diego California is a very diverse one that was filled with both families and college
students. The odd nature of the stop was both on my part and his. See he pulled me over without
cause and then sent me on my way with no explanation. But also, I got out of my car. Something you
are told never to do. Something I’ve never seen done on television or in the movies, but I was young
and taught to fear the police by the news and the way the police acted when they didn’t know that they
were being filmed. So I got out, and he simply instructed me to get back in. This was a few years ago,
and I loath to think what would have happened today in the same situation. I might not be here right
now writing this piece.
Anyway, that wasn’t the last time that this would happen either, I was pulled over constantly just to be
told to that there was no reason for it, or “you’re just a nice lady.” I was told that one twice and it made
me think that if I were a man or a stereotypical Black girl, they would have come up with some reason to
ticket me. But I was never ticketed. Yet the impetus to pull me over for no reason was so
overwhelming that it happened to me several times that same year I was licensed.
At the time I didn’t know that statistically Blacks are 31% more likely to get pulled over than Whites and
23% more likely than Hispanics. This was reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and it just means
that no matter what, I will probably get pulled over more often than my white counterparts. This means
more interactions with the police. This means that I might just get a little frustrated and get a little
attitude. This just means that I am 31% more likely to end up like Sandra Bland no matter what I do.
This makes my fear much more palpable. The facts behind the Sandra Bland case and even the Kindra
Chapman case are a bit fuzzy and why wouldn’t they be, the same police in charge of dispensing the
information are the same ones who are doing all they can to cover up the actions of an officer who
broke the constitutional laws as well as their code of conduct. The problem I have with the police is
simple; they have created an impenetrable “Blue Wall” that is not only made up of the police who patrol
the streets, but their superiors, lawyers, judges, and even juries. And whether you believe it or not,
average citizens, for one reason or another, who side with the police, also help to create this
insurmountable barrier between us and them.
What I have come to believe from my interactions with people on the internet, is that the perception
that all Blacks are somehow criminal and therefore their acts should be scrutinized is alive and well in
the narrow minds some white Americans. And even some Latinos who are also being brutalized by the
police have expressed their opinions of African Americans as somehow more disrespectful to the police
or more likely to riot and therefore deserving of the treatment that we get.
These views on Blacks frighten me because they help to create a wall that is so omnipresent that it lives
inside juries like the one who let police officer charged with killing Oscar Grant as he was handcuffed
with his hands behind his back go home after only 11 months in prison. These cases will always live in
my brain as examples of how irrelevant our lives are in America and in a system that is and has always
been stacked up against us.
What disturb me are all the excuses made up for why people like Sandra Bland needed to arrested and
then killed. Or commit suicide as they would like us to believe. People on the internet are saying that
she shouldn’t have talked back and that they were raised to respect the police, and my all-time favorite,
they were raised to obey the police. Let’s not forget the fact that the commands he gave her should not
have been commands in the first place, and the fact that the whole stop was both unnecessary and then
turned illegal. If we think about those things the fact that she is dead becomes highly infuriating.
that this whole thing could have been avoided if the trained officer had followed procedure and the law
in the first place. According to an article on the countercurrentnews.com website, “In the case of
Rodriguez v. United States it was determined that police were not allowed to extend the length of a
routine traffic stop. That ruling effected lengths of even a few minutes, unless there was clearly
demonstrable safety concern or an additional crime that had been committed in the course of the stop.”
And p.s., smoking a cigarette is not considered a crime. And sorry internet trolls, but cigarettes aren’t
considered a deadly weapon either.
It was clear from the video footage of the stop that she was in her car waiting for him to run her plates
and question the person on the other end of his radio for more than 10 minutes during this stop. Not
only that, but his ludicrous questioning of Sandra lengthened this simple traffic stop even more.
Demanding that her put her cigarette when she nor it posed no danger to him and the rest of society,
barring the consequences of second hand smoke, was unlawful and therefore lengthened the stop and
made his actions illegal.
According to the same article, “But what is clear now, from the video, is that there was no other crime,
nor a safety concern. The officer was acting in violation of the law, as defined by the Supreme Court.”
Simply put, she was not obligated to put out her cigarette no matter how much you say it on the
When Sandra Bland stated that she was trying to sign the ticket, the warning he gave her without
explanation as he was too busy worrying why she looked annoyed, it is clear then that she was doing all
she could to follow his lawful orders. According to countercurrentnews.com who quoted Supreme
Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “his extension of the stop past that point - when there was no
safety concern, nor any criminal offense that had been committed during the stop at that point -
constituted illegal detention and a subsequent false arrest.”
So let’s be clear, he escalated the stop by asking her to put out her cigarette which was not a legally
sanctioned demand, and then his lengthening of the stop was basically illegal detention making the
arrest false on its fact.
You might be a little confused as to why I might care about the opinions of people on the internet,
people I might never meet, but these people make up a small sample of wider society and reflect
enough of their views to make them dangerous. Simply put, if we don’t all get together with a clear
understanding of the laws that govern us and them, and hold them to the strictest of standard, then
there will always be Sandra Blands who will die without any justice.
So who’s next? You or someone in your family? Or maybe me and someone in my family? Just
something to think about.