The National Action Network (NAN) Los Angeles held a “Justice for Sandra Bland” vigil on Tuesday in memory of the 28-year-old African American woman found dead after police arrested her in Waller County, Texas.
Three days after she was taken into custody, Bland was discovered hanging in her jail cell. Coalitions of civil rights organizations rallied in her honor during the vigil that took place in Leimert Park.
Bland was pulled over by a Texas state trooper for allegedly failing to signal a lane change. The footage, captured by trooper Brian Encinia’s dash cam, shows him talking to Bland, who appears to be irritated. After Bland refuses to put out a cigarette, Encinia tells her to get out of the car to which Bland responds, “I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself.”
Bland, who drove to Texas from Illinois to begin a new job, was arrested after stepping out of camera view.
“We find it hard to believe that Sandra, who had everything to live for, would drive all the way from Chicago to Texas to hang herself and commit suicide,” said Najee Ali, political director for NAN’s Los Angeles chapter, in a statement. “There are many questions surrounding her death, but my personal opinion is that Sandra was murdered by racist police in her jail cell. There is no other explanation.”
NAN, along with several other civil rights organizations, believes that there was foul play involved in Bland’s death. Over the span of her time in jail, Bland called her family several times to explain what took place and requested help covering her $5,000 bail, according to NBC News. She was last seen alive in her cell by a guard at 7 a.m. on July 13, telling him “I am good,” authorities said.
She used the intercom just before 8 a.m. to ask about using the phone. A guard went by her cell an hour later to see if she wanted exercise, only to see her hanging from a partition with a plastic trash can liner around her neck, authorities said.
“The National Action Network and our national leader Rev. Al Sharpton stands in full support of the Davis family, friends, and supporters nationwide,” stated Rev. K.W. Tullos, President of National Action Network’s Los Angeles chapter. “We support the Justice Department probe into what really happened in the death of Sandra Bland.”
Encinia was placed on administrative duties after the state Department of Public Safety said it found “violations of procedures regarding traffic stops and the department’s courtesy policy.”