July 10, 2015, the police dashcam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest. (After an exchange with another driver, the action starts at 1:20 mark followed by several minutes of inaction. Return to exchange with police at 8:30 mark, escalates very quickly at 9:30.)
Sandra Bland. An African-American woman stopped by police for a traffic violation. Three days later, Ms. Bland was found hanging in a police holding cell.
Death by traffic violation. Not in a traffic accident. A traffic violation. Let that sink in.
Ms. Bland’s auto maneuvers look like my driving. At 8:50 when Ms. Bland explained her speeding up and pulling over, I agreed. “Yep, that’s what I’d do too. Get out of the way of the flashing lights on the way to catch a criminal or help someone in need somewhere or maintain the peace. This is me getting out of your way!”
And then it turns out I am the pursued. I am the violator, the target of rollers. Well, I would be incredulous too. “What!? Me? Huh?” Up to that moment, the preamble of events, I could be the driver. I could be Sandra Bland.
But the story takes a dark, unexpected turn at the 9:30 mark. Escalation to resisting arrest for a failure to signal? A failure to douse her cigarette? She was not in a posted no-smoking zone. She was in her car. Her car. Her own car.
Failure to signal. Resisting arrest. Three days in a jail cell. Dead. Sandra Bland breaks me. Sandra Bland was an African-American woman.
I am white.
Dollars to donuts that by the 9:45 mark, smoking or not, I would have been signaling to pull onto the road. Driving along my little way a little more careful. Ticketed or not.