Stats & Data

July 29, 2015

Sandra Bland is a hero to be celebrated, and a life extinguished prematurely.

Why can’t Rachel Dolezal be more like Sandra Bland?

Ok, ok, so this isn’t an article about a wish that Rachel Dolezal kill herself. I don’t want anybody to die. If Rachel were to commit suicide, it would only contribute to white on orange violence. Plus, I kind of feel like I have a Joker to Batman relationship with Rachel. What would I do without her? Rachel completes me.

Sandra Bland is a hero for standing up against institutionalized racism and injustice, not only during her traffic stop, but for years before, as chronicled on her Facebook page. She lived her philosophy, and can’t be faulted for it.

Rachel Dolezal, on the other hand, is not a hero. Twenty bucks says Rachel is jealous of Sandra for taking the spotlight off her. Rachel is the anti-Sandra, unless you consider an actor starring in a play they wrote about experiencing racism as the same thing as actually experiencing racism. I know you don’t.

Sandra Bland’s experience at the hands of a well-established racist sherriff’s department in Waller County, Texas was to say the least, unconscionable.

I have two great fears concerning Sandra Bland’s story. These two fears are mutually exclusive, and I am much more afraid of the second fear than the first.

My first fear is that Brian Encinia acted alone. His actions are singular in nature and neither repeated or condoned by the Waller County Sherriff’s Department in general (both by the officers and staff).

What this fear reveals to me is that although there is one person (hopefully soon-to-be ex-cop Brian Encinia) who royally screwed up, at least the incident wasn’t a symptom of a larger bred-in bias towards African Americans in Waller County, and maybe Texas is general.

If Encinia did act alone, the incident could have been explained by a disorder or imbalance of some sort. If only my first fear were the only fear I feared…

I am much more afraid of my second fear, as it would confirm what has been reported often over the past few years, that racism is alive and well today, residing primarily in the South, but as Eric Garner’s story shows us, it came as far north as New York City.

My second fear is that instead of acting singularly, Brian Encinia was, as they might say in Waller County, “Just doin’ his job.” Unfortunately, the evidence I infer from the information about Sandra Bland’s story online supports my second fear.

From the traffic stop that he had just concluded to when he pulls Sandra over, Mr. Encinia’s behavior points to a deliberate profiling of Ms. Bland. So just to repeat, Encinia targeted Sandra Bland before he even spoke to her. Hard to believe? Read this account of Encinia’s actions recorded on his patrol car dashboard camera leading up to pulling Sandra Bland over:

(At this point, Encinia has just let another motorist go with a warning when he gets back into his patrol car)

“It’s a moment that’s been understandably overlooked in that intense dashcam footage, but it bears mentioning — Encinia circles back to follow Bland before pulling her over, pulling a U-turn as she passes him to his left. The video lays it bare — after making the U-turn, Encinia speeds up to where he’s behind Bland’s car in relatively short order. He ostensibly pulled Bland over for failing to signal her lane change after he was right behind her, but then why did he close so quickly in the first place?”

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Brian Encinia chose Sandra Bland. Plain and simple. And then he tailgates her, and she moves out of the way, forgetting to signal. How many of us have been in front of a cop car in traffic and made a less than perfect decision out of nervousness? That’s all Sandra did. No basis for being pulled over.

First-year patrol officer Brian Encinia knew he was on-camera, right? I mean, they didn’t install the dashcam in his cop car without telling him, right? If that is true, and Encinia was full aware that his actions were being recorded, then the implications of his actions become much more dire.

Had Encinia seen other traffic stops where Waller County officers acted like he did? Did he think he would get in trouble? Obviously not. He did change the story on his arrest warrant and on the phone with the dispatcher.

I can feel Encinia developing his alibi as he spoke with the dispatcher. He might have expected the incident to come down to her word against his. But what about the video? How could Encinia justify what he did unless he thought he was correct in his actions?

I believe that in Waller County, Texas, incidents like these might be more common than we think. Luckily, the truth teller, the dashboard camera, is there to set the record straight.

Nothing can bring back Sandra Bland’s life, but her example of heroism might as well be carved in stone, because police are running out of avenues to abuse their authority.

If racism still exists to the degree indicated by the brutality and pervasiveness of multiple encounters with police, then I have a moral obligation to get involved.

I should’ve acted after Ferguson. I should’ve heard what Eric Garner was really saying. I should’ve known…Bill Cosby was a rapist? Wait…that can’t be right. The Cosby issue needs to wait for another blog entry. I don’t have enough time right now.