A case of foul play

Story by: Jenna Jones, Opinions Editor
Note: This is the full story, partially printed in the August 2015 edition

July marked yet another tragic event regarding police abusing their power. The current controversy is centered around 28 year old Sandra Bland, who was arrested by Trooper Brian Encinia for allegedly assaulting an officer and resisting arrest after failing to signal a lane change. Bland was supposedly found dead in her jail cell three days later.

There is much to be said about Sandra Bland’s case, from the questionable motive behind her arrest to the mystery and deception regarding her death. It should be made clear that I believe serious foul play was involved throughout her experience.

Although it is legal to make an arrest for minor traffic violations such as failing to signal, the punishment does not go beyond paying a fine. It stands in question whether or not Encinia was justified in arresting Bland, especially considering the video evidence shows no signs of Bland assaulting the officer nor resisting his arrest.

Encinia was out of line from the beginning. In the video, he tells Bland to put out her cigarette before telling her she needs to exit the vehicle, failing to explain why he gave that order. He then proceeded to threaten to “light you up” with his taser before forcing her out of her car.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after the arrest. Her death was ruled a suicide by the Waller County Police Department.

The details of Bland’s supposed “self-inflicted asphyxiation” are sketchy to say the least. None of the information presented adds up, and it is painfully obvious that something is not right. It is hard to say exactly what was done, but it is something that needs to be figured out.

To say I am simply upset about the entire situation would be a heinous understatement. I feel appalled, livid, disgusted, and every synonym for those words. Sandra Bland may have died of asphyxiation, but it was not self-inflicted.

As a nation, we should not allow our so-called protectors so much power. They may be in a position of authority, but that does not grant them the right to apprehend someone for no reason, nor does it excuse their behavior in such situations.

Something must be done about the rampant murder of colored citizens who have committed minor crimes.

The case is being investigated, and I personally believe an autopsy should be performed by an independent organization. At this point, the evidence presented by the Waller County Police has been so unreliable and inconsistent that any further information can not be trusted.

Bland’s family has filed a lawsuit against the department, and hopefully the court system will uncover whatever truth needs to be revealed.

Injustice in the justice system

Story by: Shelby Caldwell, staff writer

As a well-developed country, America is home to smart phones, big-screen TVs, and hundred-dollar boots. It is hard to believe that our country also holds quite a few homeless citizens. Los Angeles’ Skid Row is one of the most shocking neighborhoods in the country.

LA’s Skid Row is a 50 block area filled with homeless people and patrolled by over 150 police officers. Many of the inhabitants require mental health professionals, but cannot afford the help that they need.

Skid Row is home to the most recent case of police brutality. A homeless man known only by the nickname of Africa was shot five times and killed by two LAPD officers on March 1. Police were allegedly responding to a reported robbery. When the police tried to take Africa into custody, the officers believed that he tried to reach for one of their gun holsters.

There is a viral video online where viewers can watch the shooting. In the video, a taser and three gunshots are heard.The homeless man died on the ground on Skid Row.

LA’s Skid Row has been the spot of a previous police scandal. Last May, homeless man Carlos Ocana fell from a rooftop after the LAPD tasered him. The 54 year old man died from the fall.

There are already marches and protests in the making for the citizens of Skid Row.