Sandra Bland, after her death in Texas, USA


Sandra Bland

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sandra Bland’s death in police custody puts spotlight on Texas jail standards

More than 4,200 people in Texas have died in custody in the past decade, and Waller County, where Bland died, has repeatedly been found non-compliant with state regulations that could have prevented her death

Tom Dart in Houston

Wednesday 29 July 2015 12.00 BST

If it makes no logical sense that a young and seemingly happy woman would kill herself days after being offered a new job, then the death of Sandra Bland is an anomaly on a statistical level as well.

The official, hotly disputed account is that the 28-year-old hanged herself in her cell on 13 July. If that is true she is the first African American woman to kill herself in a Texas county jail since the state’s standards agency started keeping death records.

Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, said that 140 inmates in Texas county jails have killed themselves since 2009, mostly white men. Suicide, usually by hanging, represents about one-third of the total deaths. Bland’s gender and race mark her out as unique.

Deaths in custody, though, are anything but rare. Officially, more than 4,200 people in Texas have died in custody in the past decade – a figure that includes those killed during attempted arrests or while restrained, as well as those who are incarcerated.

Half of them fell under the responsibility of the state prisons department, which typically holds inmates serving sentences of more than a year. Those in county jails are usually serving short sentences or are awaiting trial and have not yet been convicted, like Bland. At the end of 2013, according to federal statistics, Texas held 168,280 prisoners – more than any other state.

Across the country, 958 inmates died in local jails in 2012, according to an analysis last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics – an increase of 8% from 2011. The average annual suicide rate for white inmates between 2000 and 2012 was at least three times higher than the rate for black or Hispanic prisoners.

In Houston alone there have been four deaths in the past eight days, one an apparent suicide of a man who had been screened for mental health issues about 12 hours earlier. “You have a constitutional right to be protected from harm in custody and that includes protection from harming yourself,” said Amin Alehashem, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Houston. The project plans to launch legal action against a Houston-area sheriff on Wednesday in a jail suicide case.

Alehashem said that as well as basic failings that vary from county to county, the length of pre-trial detention is a fundamental problem. The majority of inmates in Harris County’s jail, which encompasses Houston, are there because they cannot afford to make bond, he said.

Bland was seemingly unable to raise money for her bond immediately, meaning she was held over the weekend, alone in her cell. “Individuals that don’t have access to resources are confined and it has immediate consequences on mental health,” Alehashem said.

Bland was said to have asphyxiated herself using a plastic trash bag. Wood said that the use of trash bags is “not something that we are looking at prohibiting” because “she could just as easily have used her inmate clothing, her undergarments, her bedding, towels.”

But the Waller County jail, near Houston, has repeatedly been found non-compliant with state regulations in recent years, including after the 2012 suicide of a 29-year-old man.

An inspection in the wake of Bland’s death cited a failure to check on inmates in person at least once an hour and a lack of mental health training. The jail has 30 days to come up with a plan to rectify the problems. Wood’s agency has also spoken to officials about the failure to follow mental health assessment guidelines after she indicated on a screening questionnaire that she had previously attempted suicide and felt depressed.

That should have prompted jailers to contact a magistrate for a decision on whether to have her assessed by a mental health professional. But she was not even placed on suicide watch, which would have seen her checked more frequently and probably put in a cell covered by a camera.

Elton Mathis, the Waller County district attorney, released a toxicology report on Monday which indicated that Bland had marijuana in her system at the time of her death. Warren Diepraam, a county prosector, did not rule out the possibility that she had ingested the drug while in jail. Bland’s jail records and the dashcam video from the traffic stop that precipitated her arrest do not indicate that law enforcement officers suspected she was high on drugs at the time.

Michael McCabe, a toxicology expert with Robson Forensic in Philadelphia, reviewed the report for the Guardian and said that if the levels found in Bland’s blood had come from a living person they would indicate that she had smoked marijuana within a few hours of the sample collection. But, he said, given the faster rate at which the main chemical is released from body fat stores after death, it is not possible from the results to make a definitive conclusion that she was using marijuana or under the influence of marijuana at the time of her arrest or death.

Glenn Smith, the Waller County sheriff, said last week that he has asked a local attorney to form an independent panel to investigate his department’s procedures and performance. Mathis told reporters on Monday that he is forming a committee of outside attorneys to examine Bland’s case with a view to possible criminal charges that would be presented to a grand jury, probably next month.

Regardless of the autopsy results, for many in the local community and beyond, the jail’s errors, the mishandled traffic stop on the afternoon of 10 July that quickly escalated into confrontation and the context – a white trooper waiting in his car just outside the campus of a mainly black university who drives up behind Bland, prompting her to move across, then pulls her over for failing to signal a lane change – blame her death on institutional incompetence and bias.

“Waller County should be held accountable because she died in their care, custody and control,” said DeWayne Charleston, who became the county’s first black justice of the peace in 2003.

“Sandra Bland was entitled to proper medical care, entitled that everything about her care brought her safety and security,” he said, adding that he had previously spent time in the jail because of his activism. He speculated that anyone brought in on suspicion of assaulting an officer, like Bland, would not have received sympathetic treatment from staff.

He is not persuaded by Mathis’s announcement or his promises of a transparent and thorough investigation. “I don’t have any confidence in the fact that he has not made a commitment that he would bind himself to the recommendations,” he said. “I think he should just recuse himself. The trust is too far gone.”

Last week the sheriff’s office said in a statement: “All plastic trash liners have been removed from all cells in the Waller County Jail, pending further direction from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The two deficiencies noted by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards … are being corrected and all inmates are monitored hourly for face-to-face observation.”

The full dashboard video of Sandra Bland’s arrest is nearly fifty minutes long, and can be viewed on YouTube. It has the quality of nightmare, because it starts off so routinely and goes so badly. Sandra Bland was a twenty-eight-year-old African-American woman who was driving from Chicago to East Texas, to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. At home in Illinois, she was active in her church and close to her family. She had taken a keen interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and in the problem of police abuse of authority. At first, the conversation between Bland and Encinia is relatively civil; Bland expresses her unhappiness at being stopped. But she sounds calm, like a reasonable person educated about her rights, and in a hurry to be on her way: here.

‘My Baby Did Not Take Herself Out': Friends, Family Share Stories of Sandra Bland: here.

From Equality Texas:

In Sandra Bland’s Death, Echos of LGBT History

July 29, 2015

On March 8th, 1970, New York Police raided the Snake Pit Bar, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, arresting all 167 patrons and staff present.

Diego Vinales, a 23-year old undocumented Argentinian immigrant was one of those arrested. Depending on which account you believe Vinales either, fearing deportation, jumped from a 2nd story window in an attempt to escape and was impaled on the wrought iron fence below, or was pushed out of the window by police officers.

In a flyer protesting the police violence against Vinales the Gay Activist Alliance said “Any way you look at it, Diego Vinales was pushed. We are all being pushed… Anyone who calls himself a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.”

OHIO COP INDICTED FOR MURDER AFTER TRAFFIC STOP “A University of Cincinnati police officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge, with a prosecutor saying the officer ‘purposely killed him’ and ‘should never have been a police officer.'” Take a look at the latest graphic from The Washington Post regarding the number of people shot dead by the police this year, as well as The New York Times‘ compilation of videos that are “putting race and policing in sharp relief.” [AP]

Can This Software Prevent Acts of Police Brutality? Here.

British Islamophobes’ ‘racial holy war’ plans


This video from North America says about an extreme right ‘racial holy war‘ propagandist:

14 July 2015

Paul Craig Cobb better known as Craig Cobb, is an American Canadian White Nationalist, White Separatist, Neo-Nazi, antisemite and Holocaust denier who operates the video sharing website Podblanc.

By Luke James in Britain:

Operation Race Riot

Tuesday 28th July 2015

Campaigners expose far-right bid to launch a race war off the back of insulting cartoon exhibition of the Muslim prophet Mohammed

A RACIST plot to spark a “civil war” in Britain by staging a provocative exhibition of prophet Mohammed cartoons was blown open by campaigners yesterday.

Anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate published a 32-page dossier alleging that a September 18 exhibition will be at the centre of a plan to spark confrontations in multicultural communities.

Chief executive Nick Lowles called on the authorities to stop the event, saying it is “simply seeking to incite division, hatred and violence.”

Mr Lowles warned: “Some simply want to provoke a violent reaction from Muslims in order to present them in a negative and intolerant light.

“Others hope the cartoons will spark a series of tit-for-tat violence that will ultimately lead to civil war.”

The Sharia Watch group — run by Ukip general election candidate Anne Marie Waters — announced plans for the exhibition earlier this month.

The event at an undisclosed central London venue is to feature cartoons from “satirical” magazine Vive Charlie, which counts Sun columnist Katie Hopkins among its supporters.

Infamous far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders, previously banned from Britain as an “undesirable” for his virulent Islamophobia, is to be the main speaker at the event.

A similar exhibition attended by Mr Wilders in Texas this year was attacked by two armed men, who were shot dead by police.

The Home Office appeared to suggest yesterday that Mr Wilders could be barred entry to Britain to attend the event.

A spokeswoman said the government doesn’t comment on individual cases before adding: “The Home Secretary has the power to exclude non-British nationals from the UK.

“The government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe they present a threat to our society.”

Organisers claimed the event was part of a campaign to defend free speech in the wake of the deadly attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in January by Islamic extremists.

But Hope Not Hate’s year-long investigation has revealed the real and “sinister” motives behind the event.

The group has insider evidence that Ms Marie Waters and other white extremists discussed using the exhibition to ignite race riots.

She met last month with English Defence League founders Stephen Lennon (AKA Tommy Robinson) and Alan Ayling, as well as Britain First founder Jim Dowson, according to information passed to Hope Not Hate.

One idea allegedly discussed by the group was to hold a number of demonstrations in areas with large Muslim populations at the same time.

Racist activists would wave placards showing images of the prophet Mohammed in the hope of inciting a violent backlash from local Muslims.

“They believed that police would be too stretched to cope and at least one of the demos would lead to a riot,” the report states.

A source closer to Mr Lennon reported that “Isis sleeper sells within the UK would be activated to commit terrorist attacks” in response to the exhibition.

Mr Lennon was said to believe that ex-soldiers would then “take the law into their own hands.”

The report also highlights how British fanatics openly discuss plans for civil war scenarios online, including suggestions about urban warfare.

One recent fictional account of a civil war posted anonymously began with the publication of Mohammed cartoons.

Hope Not Hate says it is “highly disturbing” that people can openly talk about murdering Muslims in a civil war and face no police action.

Mr Lowles added: “This report is more than just an exposé of attempts to use the cartoons to incite a violent reaction.

“It is about a group of political extremists, as dangerous as the Islamists they claim to dislike, who are seeking to bring society to its knees and drive Muslims out of Europe through fear, violence and murder.”

Ms Marie Waters, who stood for Ukip in Lewisham East in May, denied the allegations and the party said it was standing behind her.

See also here.

German neo-nazi bomb attack against pro-refugee activist


Refugees welcome. Artist collective Dies Irae recently replaced bus stop ads in Freital in Germany with pro-refugee posters

By Polla Garmiany in Germany, 27 July 2015:

Pro-immigrants German politician bombed; neo-Nazis suspected

MAINZ, Germany – A German leftist politician who had faced threats for his work in support of refugees and immigrants escaped unhurt, after a bomb exploded outside his home overnight Monday.

The attack, targeting Michael Richter of the Die Linke leftist party, came in the the eastern German city of Freital, near Dresden. Richter and the leftist party are known for their work in support of refugees and immigrants.

Michael Richter’s car exploded in front of his house in Freital, but no one was hurt.

The Die Linke parliamentary group released a statement saying: “The perpetrator or perpetrators have to be swiftly identified and punished. The rule of law cannot stand idly by the increasing violence against refugees and against people like Michael Richter, who take a stand for the well-being of refugees.”

Martin Bialluch, spokesman for Die Linke, told Rudaw: “We have no proof about the perpetrators yet, but Michael Richter was often threatened for his work, by far right or racist groups.”

Neo-nazi anti-refugee sticker in Freital

After several attacks and rallies against refugees and immigrants in the last weeks, the German town of Freital gained renown as a center of far right activists.

In April, a Kurdish student from Syria was shot by neo-Nazis in the German city of Leipzig. Eastern Germany struggles with rising racist and anti-immigrant movements since the unification of East and West Germany in 1990.

“The Kurdish community in Germany condemns the bombing attack against Michael Richter utterly,“ said Mehmet Tanriverdi, chairman of the Kurdish community in Germany (KGD)

“We feel certain that this bombing attack and prior arson attacks against refugee camps are carried out by neo-Nazi gangs. The rising attacks on asylum seekers and refugee camps are alarming and worrisome. The government must do everything in order to provide protection to the people and to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions,” Tanriverdi added.

Kurdish Ahmad Ibrahim, who has roots in Syrian Kurdistan and lives in eastern Germany, said: “This incident is very concerning. In April they shot this Kurdish boy, and now they even blow up a German politician’s car. My family and I were thinking of moving to Cologne, the people there are way more open.

“They understand that we didn’t leave our homelands for no reason. We left because of war and persecution, and speaking for my family, we would go back immediately after the war.”

Critics slam Danish anti-refugee ad plans: here.

Sandra Bland’s death in Texas in context


This 17 July 2015 video from the USA is called Outrage Grows After Mysterious Death of #BlackLivesMatter Activist Sandra Bland in Texas Jail.

On Saturday, hundreds of family members, friends and supporters attended the funeral of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African American woman found hanged in a Waller County, Texas jail cell on July 13, three days after being arrested during a traffic stop. The funeral was held at her lifelong church, DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, in Lisle, Ill., outside Chicago. … At Bland’s funeral, her family upheld her character, while maintaining that she would never harm herself. The last speaker was Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, who emphatically declared, “That baby did not take herself out of here”: here.

Texas county where inmate [Sandra Bland] died has history of racial tension: here.

Texas County’s Racial Past Is Seen as Prelude to Sandra Bland’s Death: here.

Take a short glance back into the legacy of Waller County and it’s no wonder that by the time 28-year-old Sandra Bland’s body was recovered in a jail cell here, the public’s faith in its institutions was already long-compromised: here.

Sheriff Where Sandra Bland Died Says There’s No Racism In His County: here.

Hundreds attend Waller County prayer vigil for Sandra Bland: here.

Heartbreaking images from Sandra Bland’s funeral: here.

One More Reason Sandra Bland’s Jail Cell Death Is Unusual. Why people like Sandra Bland are among the least likely to resort to suicide in a jail cell: here.

Whatever the circumstances of Sandra Bland’s death, blood is on the hands of the police: here.

The official account of how a black Illinois woman ended up dead in a Texas jail doesn’t stack up, says KELLY SINCLAIR: here.

A Native American activist was recently arrested and found dead in jail under conditions very similar to those of Sandra Bland in Texas. Rexdale W. Henry, 53, was recently found dead inside the Neshoba County Jail in Philadelphia, Mississippi, on July 14th: here.

Documents obtained by the Intercept establish that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been spying on Black Lives Matter protesters since anti-police-brutality protests erupted following the police killing of Michael Brown in August 2014: here.

A video has surfaced alleging to be from the hacktivist group Anonymous – and they’ve placed the blame for Sandra Bland’s death at the feet of the authorities: here.

Sandra Bland Laid to Rest; First Black Judge in Waller County Demands Sheriff Resign over Her Death: here.

Hungarian government against refugees


This video says about itself:

HUNGARIAN NEO-NAZI JOBBIK VIGILANTE TERRORISM

15 August 2011

Civil Guard Association for a Better Future” (Hungarian: Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület) is a Hungarian militant organisation, sponsored by Jobbik, involved in anti-Roma activities in areas such as the town of Gyöngyöspata in early 2011, where they have been accused of intimidating the Roma population with weapons and dogs.

By Markus Salzmann:

Hungarian government takes action against refugees

25 July 2015

The government of Prime Minister Victor Orban is taking drastic action against refugees in Hungary. In doing so, the government enjoys the support of the European Union and is working hand in hand with ultra-right forces in the country.

Hungary has begun the construction of a fence along its border with Serbia aimed at restricting the flow of refugees into the country. The first 150-meter long section was built near the town of Mórahalom, around 180 kilometers south of Budapest, according to the interior and defense ministries. Construction is to be completed by the end of November. The fence will be 175 kilometers long and 4 meters tall. The construction sites are protected in large part by military forces.

The cost amounts to roughly 6.5 billion Forint (21 million euros). That is approximately ten times as much as Hungary’s current annual expenditures for asylum procedures, refugee housing and border security. Just 2,700 refugees are actually awaiting the outcome of asylum investigations in Hungary. Each year less than 500 are admitted.

According to government figures, currently around 1,000 people cross the Serbian border into Hungary each day. Since the beginning of the year, a total of 80,000 refugees have managed to enter the country this way. Most originate from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Kosovo. They are fleeing from the catastrophic conditions created by the war policies of the United States and European powers.

Human rights organizations criticize the planned fence as part of a “propaganda campaign of the government against immigrants.” But hardly any other European government has spoken out against the plans. On the contrary, Hungary’s interior minister Sándor Pintér has confirmed that Hungary’s rigid policies are entirely in line with those of the European Union. He stressed that no protest had been issued from Brussels against the fence.

The inhumane treatment of refugees is not limited to Hungary. Other EU members proceed with similar ruthlessness. In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung last week, German interior minister Thomas de Maizière said it was “absolutely understandable” if people in Germany have “critical questions” about asylum seekers from Kosovo and Albania. That 40 percent of asylum applicants should come from these Balkan states is “a disgrace for Europe and unacceptable,” he said.

The Orban government not only wants to refuse refugees at the border, it also wants to expel them from the cities. A spokesperson for the interior ministry announced that in the future they no longer wanted to have refugees in populated areas. As Orban’s chief of staff János Lázár explained, tent camps should be provided as temporary shelters for them instead. In this way, the local population would “not be disturbed by the crowds of refugees.” One such camp is to be built on the Serbian border.

Orban ranted that asylum seekers are all “economic refugees.” They are “foreign” and would like “to destroy Christian Europe.” Refugees are to be criminalized. It will soon be allowed to lock them up longer than 48 hours.

Orban’s government collaborates closely with fascistic forces. At the beginning of July, neo-Nazis with connections to the ultra-nationalist Jobbik party launched a provocation against refugees and their Hungarian aides at a train station in the border town of Szeged. The police did not intervene to stop them.

The right-wing extremist demonstration against “overrunning hordes from Africa” at the East Train Station was accompanied by the announcement of police measures against refugees. The former Jobbik representative György Gyula Zagyva announced at the demonstration “an array of actions on the border and in refugee camps.” The neo-fascist Jobbik has numerous members in police and intelligence agency circles.

With the building of the border fence and the intensification of the attacks on refugees, the government has adopted the policies of the ultra right. Laszlo Toroczkai, mayor of Asotthalom, a town near Szeged, ordered the building of the border fence a year ago. “I am happy that the government has taken up my idea,” he now says.

Toroczkai had founded the right wing extremist group “64 Burgkomitate” in 2001. This fascistic group advocates the restoration of the pre-World War I borders of Greater Hungary. Toroczkai himself took part in attacks by right wing bands on a Hungarian television station in 2006 and was prohibited from entering three neighboring countries because of his provocative behavior. In 2013, he was elected mayor of a small community near Szeged. He openly advocates threatening and expelling refugees.

In Asotthalom as in other areas of Hungary, fascist militias and the regular police collaborate closely. About 20 militias have been partially armed and sent out in pursuit of refugees. Toroczkai proudly told the press that a vigilante group “surrounded” a group of about 100 refugees spending the night in a park in front of the mayor’s office and watched them “until the police took them away. The collaboration works well.”

The Schweizer Tagesanzeiger reported how the police deal with refugees in Hungary. They bring refugees “into the former prison Nagyfa near Szeged, where they are investigated and registered and receive a provisional identification document.” Then they are released at the Szeged Train Station and have to find their own way to one of the three refugee camps. “Whoever does not succeed at this within two days loses his residence permit. Not all of them travel further into Western Europe. Many are stranded in public squares in front of train stations or under bridges in cities like Szeged or Budapest. This also includes families with small children,” said the newspaper report.

Last week, an immigrant died while fleeing from the police. According to eyewitnesses, the man was staying at a gas station with other refugees. When a police car stopped to take him into custody, he fled onto the highway where he was hit by a truck. His family, including his children, were witness to this scene.

Sandra Bland funeral in the USA


This video from the USA is called Sandra Bland Funeral – Draws Hundreds Of Mourners In Illinois. It says about itself:

25 July 2015

Sandra Bland Funeral: Hundreds have been attending the funeral in Illinois of Sandra Bland, who died in a Texas prison cell nearly two weeks ago after being arrested.

From NBC News in the USA:

Mourners Attend Illinois Funeral for Sandra Bland Who Died in Texas Jail

by Elizabeth Chuck

July 25 2015, 1:41 pm ET

Sandra Bland, the woman found dead in a Texas jail cell, was remembered Saturday as a courageous fighter for social justice.

Family and friends gathered at her wake and funeral in Lisle, Illinois, the Chicago suburb where she grew up. …

Before the service at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle, the Rev. Theresa Read said mourners would remember Bland as a “young lady that refused to be subdued and silenced.”

“Our service will be one of celebration. We’ll be celebrating the life of Sandy Bland. We have much to celebrate. We’re happy that she found her voice, found her purpose in social justice. We celebrate that she walked and lived in her truth,” she said

Supporters don’t believe the autopsy findings, she added, saying officials’ account of the incident is “plagued with inconsistencies.”

From the New York Times in the USA:

At Sandra Bland Funeral, Mourning a Life Cut Short in Texas

By MITCH SMITHJULY 25, 2015

LISLE, Ill. — Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday at the suburban Chicago church that Sandra Bland attended for many of her 28 years, turning out in such numbers that even the overflow viewing room ran out of chairs. From the pulpit, relatives and friends recounted happy memories of Ms. Bland’s faith and social activism, and restated their belief that her death in a Texas jail was no suicide.

“That baby did not take herself out of here,” said Geneva Reed-Veal, Ms. Bland’s mother, during the funeral here at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Ms. Reed-Veal spoke at length, telling mourners about a recent road trip she had taken with her daughter. On their way to visit relatives in Tennessee, Ms. Reed-Veal said, Ms. Bland told her she had found a calling and planned to pursue it by returning to Texas, where she had attended college.

“Her purpose was to stop all injustice against blacks in the South,” Ms. Reed-Veal said at the funeral.

Many here believe that in seeking to fulfill that newfound purpose, Ms. Bland became another victim of the injustice she wanted to end. Shortly after arriving in Hempstead, Tex., where she had moved to take a job at Prairie View A&M University, the historically black school that was her alma mater, she was pulled over by a state trooper. …

Leaders at DuPage remembered Ms. Bland as a smart, outspoken woman who once sang in the youth choir and had participated in the church’s Girl Scout troop. After graduating from college, she returned here, serving on church committees, befriending older members of the congregation and earning a reputation as a prolific taker of selfie photos.

The Rev. Theresa Dear, an associate minister at DuPage A.M.E. who knew Ms. Bland since she started attending the church as a young girl, said the official account of the death conflicted with her own memories of an ambitious, educated Christian who was excited about the future and who had helped organize the church’s recent Women’s Day event.

“This is someone who had over 50 selfies, healthy self-esteem,” Ms. Dear said in an interview. “Someone who had two job offers. Someone who just talked to her family and knew that help and rescue was on the way. This is someone who knew the Lord and was extremely close with her church family and her sisters, her biological family.

“We’re not funeralizing a martyr or a victim,” said the Rev. James F. Miller, who officiated. “We’re celebrating a hero.”

But the circumstances around her death were discussed openly and repeatedly, and Mr. Miller had harsh words for the Texas officials handling the investigation.

“The authorities in Waller County are going to discover something that I learned and each of us learned at our mother’s knee,” Mr. Miller said from the pulpit. “You can disrespect a strong black woman if you want, but you’re going to pay for that.”

Speaker after speaker encouraged mourners to continue to use social media to seek justice. Twitter hashtags used by activists were printed in the funeral program and displayed by a handful of people on T-shirts. Ms. Reed-Veal also asked that supporters take cues from her and her lawyer on how the family wanted to proceed. She said protesters should not demonstrate outside the home of Brian T. Encinia, the trooper who arrested Ms. Bland.

“We want to do this the right way,” Ms. Reed-Veal said.

Senator Richard J. Durbin and Representative Bill Foster, both Democrats of Illinois, each spoke briefly at the funeral. They said they had asked the Justice Department to investigate Ms. Bland’s death.

Mr. Durbin said the circumstances started with a “highly questionable traffic violation.” Trooper Encinia, of the Texas Department of Public Safety, has said he pulled Ms. Bland over after seeing her change lanes without signaling. Mr. Durbin noted that he had seen plenty of people change lanes without a turn signal during his drive to the church on Saturday.

“It was an amazing life that was cut way, way too short,” Mr. Durbin told the congregation. …

Ms. Bland’s death spurred skepticism and outrage on Twitter, where her name became a trending hashtag invoked alongside tags for Michael Brown, the black 18-year-old killed last year by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., and Freddie Gray, the black man who died this year after being arrested by the Baltimore police.

Members of DuPage A.M.E. held a march in Ms. Bland’s honor last weekend, and demonstrators in Texas have protested her death.

Ms. Bland herself had been active online in recent months, posting videos that called for improvements to race relations in America and questioned how police officers treat black people. She “found her voice in social media and the civil rights realm and space,” Ms. Dear said. …

But on Saturday, even amid all the talk about Ms. Bland’s death, even as white flowers were tossed on her coffin as it was lowered into the earth, those who knew her made an effort to keep a focus on her life. This was the woman everyone here called Sandy, a gifted musician who grew up in the church, loved spicy foods and was just getting settled in her new home in Texas before the arrest.

“Sandy was ours,” Mr. Miller said at the funeral. “We take care of our own. We love her.”

From Reuters:

Her former sorority sisters from her alma mater, Prairies View A&M University, read an obituary highlighting her religious faith and her blogs about social injustice, race politics and police brutality.

Thousands of ‘freedom fighters’ in Cleveland for first national Black Lives Matter conference: here.