Home | About | Donate

#SandySpeaks: ‘I’m Here to Change History’


#SandySpeaks: ‘I’m Here to Change History’

Kirsten West Savali

As I watched 28-year-old Sandra Bland assert her humanity by refusing to roll over and play slave for white Officer Brian Encinia, who had grown increasingly agitated by that refusal, the words of Zora Neale Hurston rang in my head through the numbness: “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”


A large garbage bag in a jail cell? To toss away the boxes from the pizza delivery service? Anyone else just a little suspicious?


Just a little…


Sandra bland was nothing short of heroic, in my mind, for doing exactly what Ms Savali called it “narrating” her experience as it happened, and for not just grinning and bearing it with a “thank you officer”…which because I am white and a coward (not that those are automatically immune from mistreatment, given different circumstances) is what I have done mostly. It was clear from the video that the ONLY reason he pulled her out of her own car was he did not like her demanding accountability and sticking up for her rights not to be intimidated or pushed around, even under “color of authority”. It is discouraging to hear and read so many people opining that it was her assertiveness that was the problem, rather than the cops attitude and behavior. It is so easy to believe that all you have to do is cooperate and be quiet and all will be well. For those of us of a given class and race, so long as we are not protesting anything in the streets, that behavior tends to work, particluarly for females of that particular race and class.
But in most Black people’s mind, I am sure, are visions of times that clearly did nothing except contribute to the deaths of even the meekest of detainees.

I find it difficult to imagine a Black woman as conscious as Sandra Bland appeared to be, as determined to defend herself in all ways, would kill herself awaiting bail…and for any Black person to HANG herself just seems improbable.

May her example inspire others, and give them courage…dispite the results. As Gandhi said: ‘Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.’


I am British, and my skin colour is white. I was once visiting the USA a long time ago. As USAians drive on the wrong side of the road, I made what could have been a serious error in making a right turn into a major street but got off the road down a side lane just in time. I was followed down this side lane by a white unmarked car, and knowing Murphy’s Law all too well I thought it would be police car. So I got out of the car and called out “English”. On which the officer, not in uniform, came up to me and told me he was the police chief and that I was lucky it was him and not one of his men otherwise I would have been shot on the spot for getting out of my car.

Trivial in the light of what I read above and have read recently? Perhaps, but for me it was shocking that the simple act of getting out of one’s car to explain oneself could get one shot by a police officer. It is an indictment not only of the USAian police, but also of USAian gun laws and USAian paranoia in general. As for what I read about Sandra Bland and others clearly murdered by the USAian police, words fail me.


Oh no, they don’t like folks making any sudden moves.
And in reality, because we have so many guns, and we are an exceptionally violent culture,
meaning mostly our males who do both the killing and the dying,
cops are not misplacing paranoia when fearing the sudden reach accross the seat or the jumping out of the vehicle. But certain folk seem to inspire more fear, more extreme reaction. That mindset unfortunately makes the police believe that no move can be made without permission and all orders must be followed whether it is warrented or not.


Good post zuzu


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.


Firstly, to make it clear, I am NOT blaming Sandra Bland for her fate, and what happened to her is a travesty to which there is no excuse. The cop sounds like he was expressing “Respect my authority! Or else!” and this attitude needs to be weeded out before these people get hired onto the force.
The Boss Hogg cops in the town where I live are often itching to arrest someone. I have seen people (and spoken with them afterward) arrested on multiple trumped-up charges in hopes at least one will stick.
I have heard that during a traffic stop, it is considered detainment even if you are warned or cited and left to go free.
How I have handled traffic stops:
If stopped on a main street: Pull into the soonest side street or driveway/parking lot and stop ASAP.
If stopped on an interstate: Pull onto the shoulder ASAP and leave enough room on the right, passenger side of the car.
Roll down both front windows. If at night, turn on interior lights. Keep both hands on the wheel. When reaching for your identification/paperwork: call to the officer that you are reaching into your bag, glove compartment or pocket getting your ID/title, insurance, etc. Then say “I am placing them on the dashboard” (or passenger seat). Then place your hands back on the wheel and keep them there, and within view.
When the cop gets to your window, be polite. I don’t care if you hate cops. Say as little as possible. Most times they approach and ask you if you know why you are being stopped. If they are being confrontational, KEEP CALM! Even if you act sympathetic, “I’m sorry if you are having a bad day,” it can ratchet the situation up if the cop is seeking to escalate it.
Some cops will threaten you with scenarios of what they are going to do if you as much as throw a piece of paper out of your car.
If you have family members in law enforcement, or if you do security work, sometimes (but not always) it helps to politely offer this tidbit as a matter of fact, so they know you are not hostile to law enforcement. If they think you resent police (though you might have good reason) they will have more reason to be belligerent and try throwing the book at you.
Because I am poor and usually drive P.O.S. cars, sometimes I get treated differently than someone in a new Mercedes.

And yes, there are those cops who will drop a baggie of drugs through an open window, so keep an eye on where their hands go. If you know you are being arrested or suspected of a jailable offense, then state you are calling your lawyer. You do have a right to remain silent, and the right to not incriminate yourself.
If you are stopped for intentionally running a red-light, then I think it’s okay to admit it and apologize. Just be respectful even when they are not. If they have a camera or mic on them, be polite and calm at all times, and just hope the footage is not “lost” because this might help you in court if you have done nothing wrong.
These are my pointers. If I am doing something wrong, then I’m open to suggestions.
I’m not a fanny-kisser when it comes to law enforcement. It doesn’t help to act intimidated - they smell fear like attack dogs. Just be calm and keep your opinions to yourself until they are out of the way.
I hope this helps!

-P.S. I am racially mixed, and when stopped from behind no one can tell if I am black, Asian, Latino or other non-white race. I deeply sympathize with the black community. I don’t want my comments to seem I am minimizing or trivializing the fact they are stopped more often. I could write an article about this (profiling) within itself.


This post was flagged by the community and is temporarily hidden.