Sandra Bland was active in the Black Lives Matter movement. Her last Facebook profile pic was text that read Now legalize being black.
She was active in the Black Lives Matter movement. a katz / Shutterstock.com

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Sandra Bland was a 28-year-old professional woman from Chicago who had just gotten a new job in student outreach. The job was located at her old alma mater in Prairie View A&M University in Texas. Bland was also an activist who regularly posted about issues related to police brutality, but who seemed hopeful that social media might affect social change:


Last Friday, on her way to start her new job, according to Chicago news outlets, Waller County police officers stopped Bland for allegedly not signaling between lanes. An interaction ensued that ultimately led to Bland being arrested for assaulting a police officer.

In the arrest video, you can hear her saying, "You just slammed my head into the ground, do you not care about that? I can't even hear."

On Monday morning, authorities say, she was found hanged in her jail cell. (The New York Daily News reports that autopsy results confirm the cause of death as suicide by hanging.)

As Chicago's ABC-7 News reports, "her friends and relatives say they do not believe the official version of what happened and say this is a case of foul play in a county with a history racial intolerance." They say that Bland was excited to start her new job and that she was "strong...both mentally and spiritually."

Many activists on Twitter share Bland's family's suspicions and have been pointing to similar situations where black people mysteriously kill themselves in police custody. Last year in Baltimore, Tyree Woodson somehow managed to sneak a gun into his jail cell, according to the official story, despite his family's belief that he'd never do something like that:


Likewise, Victor White III, after being frisked, also somehow managed to shoot himself in police custody. White's family's lawyer claims that the arresting officers were responsible and tried to cover it up.

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As for Sandra Bland, there is now an online petition to the Justice Department to take over investigating her death. The New York Times points to this video from April of Sandra Bland talking about police brutality and white people who say they want to help but don't do anything. "If we can get enough white people to show that all lives matters, maybe they'll stop killing our black brothers," she says.

She also says, "Show me in American history where all lives mattered." And a few moments later, "Yes, black-on-black crime numbers are extremely high. Yes, they are. But that is because there are uneducated people who are hellbent on self-extermination. I am not one of them."

Bland's last Facebook profile pic was text that read "Now legalize being black."