Story by Jaries Thomas
Consider your life. You have a past, and up until today you always thought you had a future. You woke up this morning excited about a new job opportunity that may arise from an interview you have scheduled for today at 11am. You get dressed, clean professional attire. You might rehearse a few lines, print out a copy of your resume to hand to your interviewer. You think to yourself, “I’ve got this; I’m going to kill this interview.”
The interview goes well. Congratulations , you’ve got the job! Your first day of work is scheduled for the following Monday morning. You call a loved one and share with them the great news and as they congratulate you, what your future holds appears to be full of possibilities and excitement.
It’s Friday afternoon and you’re riding through town. Maybe you’re on your way to the grocery store. You could be going to visit a friend or family member. Consider the idea that you’ve been a licensed driver for at least…let’s say 4 years; you switch lanes, neglecting to use your turn signal. You’re comfortable right? You’ve looked in all your mirrors and had a clear view before you switched lanes. You hear a police siren and your car lights up, shit! You would have never anticipated what happens next…
State Trooper: Hello ma’am. We’re the Texas Highway Patrol and the reason for your stop is because you failed to signal the lane change. Do you have your driver’s license and registration with you? What’s wrong? How long have you been in Texas?
YOU: Got here just today.
State Trooper: OK. Do you have a driver’s license? OK, where you headed to now? Give me a few minutes.
(State Trooper returns to his car for several minutes, then approaches YOU again.)
State Trooper: OK, ma’am. You OK?
YOU: I’m waiting on you. This is your job. I’m waiting on you. When’re you going to let me go?
State Trooper: I don’t know, you seem very really irritated.
YOU: I am. I really am. I feel like it’s crap what I’m getting a ticket for. I was getting out of your way. You were speeding up, tailing me, so I move over and you stop me. So yeah, I am a little irritated, but that doesn’t stop you from giving me a ticket, so [inaudible] ticket.
State Trooper: You mind putting out your cigarette, please? If you don’t mind?
YOU: I’m in my car, why do I have to put out my cigarette?
State Trooper: Well you can step on out now.
YOU: I don’t have to step out of my car.
State Trooper: Step out of the car!
YOU: No, you don’t have the right. No, you don’t have the right.
State Trooper: I do have the right, now step out or I will remove you.
YOU: I refuse to talk to you other than to identify myself. I am getting removed for a failure to signal?
State Trooper: Step out or I will remove you. I’m giving you a lawful order. Get out of the car now or I’m going to remove you.
YOU: And I’m calling my lawyer.
State Trooper: I’m going to yank you out of here. (Reaches inside the car.)
YOU: OK, you’re going to yank me out of my car? OK, alright.
State Trooper: Get out of the car!
YOU: Don’t touch me. Don’t touch me! I’m not under arrest — you don’t have the right to take me out of the car.
State Trooper: You are under arrest!
YOU: I’m under arrest? For what? For what? For what?
State Trooper: I‘m giving you a lawful order. I’m going to drag you out of here.
YOU: So you’re threatening to drag me out of my own car?
State Trooper: I will light you up! Get out! Now! (Draws stun gun and points it at YOU.)
YOU: Wow. Wow. (YOU exit car.)
State Trooper: Get out. Now. Get out of the car!
YOU: For a failure to signal? You’re doing all of this for a failure to signal?
State Trooper: Get over there.
YOU: Right. yeah, lets take this to court, let’s do this. (You pull out your phone and start recording)
State Trooper: Get off the phone! Put your phone down!
YOU: I’m not on the phone. I have a right to record. This is my property. Sir?
State Trooper: Put your phone down right now. Put your phone down!
(YOU slam your phone down on the trunk of your car.)
State Trooper: Turn around. Turn around now. Put your hands behind your back.
YOU: Why am I being arrested?
State Trooper: Turn around!
YOU: Why won’t you tell me that part?
State Trooper: I’m giving you a lawful order. Turn around …
YOU: Why will you not tell me what’s going on?
State Trooper: You are not complying.
YOU: I’m not complying ’cause you just pulled me out of my car.
State Trooper: If you would’ve just listened.
YOU: Oh I can’t wait ’til we go to court. Ooh I can’t wait. I cannot wait ’til we go to court. I can’t wait. Oh I can’t wait! You want me to sit down now? Or are you going to throw me to the floor? That would make you feel better about yourself?
State Trooper: Knock it off!
YOU: Nah that would make you feel better about yourself. That would make you feel real good wouldn’t it? Pussy ass. Fucking pussy. For a failure to signal you’re doing all of this. In little ass Praire View, Texas. My God they must have …
State Trooper (to an officer arriving on scene): I got her in control she’s in some handcuffs.
State Trooper: Stay right here. Stand right there.
YOU: Don’t touch me. Fucking pussy — for a traffic ticket
State Trooper: Come read right over here. This right here says ‘a warning.’ You started creating the problems.
YOU: You asked me what was wrong!
State Trooper: Do you have anything on your person that’s illegal?
YOU: Do I feel like I have anything on me? This a fucking maxi dress.
State Trooper: Come over here.
YOU: You about to break my wrist. Can you stop? You’re about to fucking break my wrist! Stop!!!
State Trooper: Stop now! Stop it! If you would stop resisting.
Female officer: Stop resisting ma’am.
YOU: (cries) For a fucking traffic ticket, you are such a pussy. You are such a pussy.
Female officer: No, you are. You should not be fighting.
State Trooper: Get on the ground!
YOU: Don’t it make you feel real good don’t it? A female for a traffic ticket. Don’t it make you feel good Officer State Trooper? You’re a real man now. You just slammed me, knocked my head into the ground. I got epilepsy, you motherfucker.
State Trooper: Good. Good.
YOU: Good? Good?
Female officer: You should have thought about it before you started resisting.
State Trooper: I want you to wait right here.
YOU: I can’t go anywhere with your fucking knee in my back, duh!
State Trooper: (to bystander trying to record events): You need to leave! You need to leave!
(YOU continue screaming)
State Trooper: You’re going to jail for resisting arrest. This officer saw everything.
Female officer: I saw everything.
YOU: And (muffled) No you didn’t. You didn’t see everything leading up to it …
Now, maybe you don’t smoke cigarettes and maybe you don’t believe that your attitude is this sharp. However, the actions and behavior displayed by this State Trooper was unnecessary, unprofessional, and far too aggressive. This is anything but a normal traffic stop, and his actions should cost him his badge as well as his freedom.
And of course the story doesn’t end there, it can’t possibly end there. You’re sent to jail on charges of resisting arrest for an arrest that should have never occurred in the first place, and you spend three days in a jail cell. The excitement you had about the new job you were starting on Monday has died, and you are overwhelmed with fear and frustration.
Your human rights have been violated, and it’s your word against a police officer whose actions are defended by the same legal system you will have to defend yourself rights against. However, you know that this was recorded, and that’s all the evidence you need to prove your case to a jury of your peers. And because the officer is aware of this fact as well, this is only going to go one way when it is put in front of a judge. If you get the chance to state your case he will lose everything, from his badge to his dignity. So…on your third day in police custody, you’re found hanging from a “plastic garbage bag” in your jail cell due to an “alleged” suicide.
Do you see how this could have easily been you? Your friend or family member? This could have happened to anybody, anywhere. That is why getting to the bottom of this story is so important. If we continue to live in the shadows, and not demand answers from the people who are suppose to protect and serve, it means we are willing to accept what we cannot control. There is no doubt that this story is filled with holes and missing information. Finding out what happened to Sandra Bland is a key to giving power back to the public.
People who have large influences in urban pop culture have a bad habit of neglecting to be activist when these types of issues occur. Think about it. Who is your favorite artist? Now, what has he/she done to be proactive in getting answers about what happened to Sandra Bland? Are they spreading awareness in any way or creating opportunities for people to come together? If not, this proves the fact that we (they’re supporters and fans) need to hold them accountable and bring it to their direct attention. If we have the power to make them popular, we also have an opportunity and an obligation to make act on the issues that are important to us.
Celebrity gossip and following the lives of people who are popular in pop culture is overshadowing the issues that are literally killing people. Racism, police brutality, prejudices, suicides, bullying, the list goes on. All of the wrong things are holding the attention of the current generation because not enough light is being shed on the more important issues. What happened to artists using music, art and movies to spread awareness about what is happening in the world? Every now and then a controversial film about a prominent issue about being a black man/woman in white America hits the box office and maybe clears $2million in sales; but Kevin Hart stars in a romantic comedy and has record breaking sales surpassing $5million. Meek Mill gets on twitter to diss Drake, and it keeps us up past our bedtime. At the same time, Sandra Bland has allegedly committed suicide in her jail cell after being incarcerated under false charges. What has got your attention?