Sandra Bland’s death, investigate it, petition


This video from the USA:

21 December 2015

Sandra Bland’s mother Geneva Reed-Veal criticized the grand jury proceedings in Waller County, Texas.

From UltraViolet in the USA:

BREAKING: A mostly white grand jury in Texas just failed to indict anyone in Sandra Bland’s death, and has allowed all Waller County sheriff officials and jail employees to escape accountability.1

It’s what Bland’s family and supporters feared–and it’s exactly why we need the Department of Justice to step in NOW to investigate. Despite months of grassroots pressure, the Department of Justice has done NOTHING.

Over 500,000 people have signed the petition demanding the DOJ step in and launch a federal investigation–can you add your name?

The grand jury is reconvening in January to decide whether to indict Trooper Brian Encinia, the cop who wrongfully arrested Bland. But it’s clear that we can’t trust Waller County officials to investigate themselves. The DOJ has the ability to probe the entire police department and determine if the death of Sandra Bland is a symptom of a larger issue with police violence in Waller County. If the DOJ remains silent, we can’t expect that the Waller County police will ever be held accountable–that’s why we need as many people as possible taking a stand for justice.

Add your name.

-Nita and Shaunna

P.S. Here’s the original email we sent about the case:

Sandra Bland was driving from Illinois to Texas to start a new job at her alma mater. By all accounts she was thrilled at the opportunity.

But that opportunity is gone, after a routine traffic stop Friday in Waller County, TX led to her death in a jail cell Monday morning.2

And the local sheriff–who was fired in a different city for racist and violent conduct–claims Sandra killed herself. 3 But Sandra’s family and friends say that’s not possible. They are demanding answers but getting little help from local authorities. If left up to a racist sheriff, you can bet justice for Sandra and her family will be delayed–possibly forever.

That’s why we need the Department of Justice to step in and investigate Sandra’s death. Can you sign the petition?

Tell Attorney General Loretta Lynch: Waller County Police must be held accountable. Launch a federal investigation into the death of Sandra Bland.

Sign the petition

In the video, you can hear Sandra screaming, “You slammed my head into the ground. Do you not even care about that?”3 She was just about to start a new job in student outreach at her alma mater Prairie View A&M University. Her family and friends say she was excited about her new job, and describe her as “strong,” “outspoken,” and “passionate.” She was also a proud advocate against police violence and brutality. Her death is tragic.5

Black women and men are 4.2 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than anyone else.6 From Natasha McKenna, Alexia Christian, and Sheneque Proctor, to Yvvette Smith and Rekia Boyd, the deaths of Black women at the hands of police–with no accountability–needs to be stopped.

The police department is claiming she took her own life by hanging herself–but there were no shoestrings or blankets in her cell she could have used.7 And they’re refusing to release any video footage from that night. The police aren’t going to police themselves–that’s why we need the Department of Justice to launch a full investigation of Sandra’s death.

Sandra Bland deserves justice, and as we’ve seen with cases like those of Renisha McBride and Marissa Alexander, justice often comes only after we all raise our voices loudly.8 When people demanded an investigation of Ferguson police, the Department of Justice found undeniable patterns of racism and violence, and they were held accountable.9 Together, with our friends at ColorofChange, we can make sure Waller County police are held accountable, and stem the tide of police violence against Black women.

Will you add your name?

Thanks for speaking out.

–Nita, Shaunna, Kat, Karin, Adam, Gabriela, Holly, Kaili, Kathy, Onyi, Susan, Clarise, Anathea, Audine, Ryan, and Shannon, the UltraViolet team

Sources:

1. Prosecutor: No indictment in Sandra Bland jail death, Associated Press, December 21, 2015

2. Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead In Jail?, The Root, July 16, 2015

3. Texas Sheriff involved in the death of Sandra Bland fired from previous post for racism, Daily Kos, July 16, 2015

4. Sandra Bland Drove to Texas to Start a New Job, so How Did She End Up Dead In Jail?, The Root, July 16, 2015

5. Family wary after Naperville woman’s death in Texas jail; grand jury to inquire, Chicago Tribune, July 16, 2015

6. Here’s the Data That Shows Cops Kill Black People at a Higher Rate Than White People, MotherJones, September 10, 2014

7. What Happened to Sandra Bland, a Black Woman Who Died in Jail Monday?, Gawker, July 16, 2015

8. Renisha McBride’s family: ‘You can rest now, justice is served’, myFOXDetroit.com, August 7, 2014

Marissa Alexander Released From Prison, The Root, January 28, 2015

9. Ferguson’s Conspiracy Against Black Citizens, The Atlantic, March 5, 2015

Texas grand jury refuses to indict police officers involved in the death of Sandra Bland: here.

Sandra Bland died, no prosecution in Texas


This video from the USA is called Sandra Bland family, attorneys blast grand jury process.

From Associated Press in the USA:

Grand Jury Decides Not To Indict Anyone For Sandra Bland’s Jailhouse Death

The grand jury reached no decision on whether the trooper who arrested Bland should face charges.

12/21/2015 10:27 pm ET | Updated 5 hours ago

HEMPSTEAD, Texas (AP) — A grand jury has decided no felony crime was committed by the sheriff’s office or jailers in the treatment of a black woman who died in a Southeast Texas county jail last summer.

But prosecutor Darrell Jordan said the Waller County grand jury reached no decision on whether the trooper who arrested 28-year-old Sandra Bland should face charges.

The Chicago-area woman was pulled over July 10 by a Texas state trooper for making an improper lane change. Dashcam video showed their interaction quickly became confrontational and she was arrested for assault.

Bland was taken in handcuffs to the county jail in nearby Hempstead, about 50 miles northwest of Houston, and remained there when she couldn’t raise about $500 for bail. She was discovered dead in her jail cell three days later, hanging from a cell partition with a plastic garbage bag used as a ligature around her neck.

Bland‘s relatives, along with supporters fueled by social media postings, questioned a medical examiner’s finding that Bland killed herself. Cannon Lambert, an attorney representing Bland‘s family, said Monday the decision is consistent with what the family believes has so far been an attempt by authorities to cover up the events after Bland’s arrest.

“They continue to do things we are disappointed in,” he said.

Bland‘s mother and sisters spoke at a news conference in Chicago before Monday night’s announcement, where they said they had no faith in the grand jury.

Bland‘s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, said she wants to see all the evidence and is frustrated by delays in the case. Attorney Larry Rogers acknowledged grand juries usually meet in secret, but said the process “screams of a cover-up.” He said lawyers haven’t been able to examine a Texas Rangers report on the incident because it’s grand jury evidence. …

Her arrest and death came amid heightened national scrutiny of police and their dealings with black suspects, especially those killed by officers or who died in police custody.

“After presenting all the evidence as it relates to the death of Sandra Bland, the grand jury did not return an indictment,” Jordan, one of the five special prosecutors, said after the grand jury met Monday for about 11 hours. “The grand jury also considered things that occurred at the jail and did not return an indictment.” …

Lambert said late Monday he believes prosecutors’ decision to have the grand jury return in January is another attempt to delay releasing the report. He said he expects to file a motion in court asking a judge to compel Texas authorities to turn over the document.

Bland’s sister didn’t immediately respond to a phone message requesting comment on the grand jury’s decision, and Reed-Veal couldn’t be reached for comment late Monday.

Royce West, a Dallas Democrat who has been a vocal leader in the case, and one of two black Texas state senators, also had said he was “comfortable” with the medical examiner’s determination.

But Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in Houston against the trooper, the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and two jail employees. State lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit.

The Bland family attorneys contend Waller County jailers should have checked on her more frequently and that the county should have performed mental evaluations once she disclosed she had a history of attempting suicide. In her lawsuit, Reed-Veal also contends that the trooper who arrested her daughter, Brian Encinia, falsified the assault allegation to take Bland into custody and that jail personnel failed to keep her daughter safe. …

Encinia, who in June completed a year-long probationary stint as a new trooper, has been on administrative duty since the Bland death.

Dashcam video from his car showed Encinia at one point holding a stun gun and yelling at Bland, “I will light you up!” after she refuses to get out of her car. The director of the Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, has said Encinia violated internal policies of professionalism and courtesy.

Woodpeckers at Texas hummingbird feeder


This video from Texas in the USA says about itself:

19 November 2015

The West Texas Hummingbird Cam had a male and female Acorn Woodpecker visit this morning. Notice how you can tell the one in the back is a female by the black band between red and white patches on her head. A small but important difference!

Seven-year-old Texas boy donates piggy bank to vandalised mosque


Seven-year-old Jack Swanson donated $20 to the mosque

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Seven-year-old boy empties piggy bank and donates money to vandalised mosque

‘It’s 20 bucks, but coming from Jack collecting his pennies it’s worth 20 million bucks to me and to our community’

Serina Sandhu

A seven-year-old boy has donated his entire piggy-bank savings to a mosque in Texas that was vandalised in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

A member of the Islamic Center of Pflugerville (ICP), in Travis County, arrived on Monday morning to find that faeces had been left in front of the building.

Pages torn from the Koran were also left at the scene.

But after discussing the incident with his mother, schoolboy Jack Swanson decided he would empty his piggy bank and make a donation of $20 to the mosque, news site Kxan.com reported.

His mother, Laura, said the pair had spoken about how the act of vandalism was a “really awful thing to do”.

“We had a good conversation [about] what churches are for and how everybody’s churches are important.”

Faisal Naeem, a board member at the mosque, said the donation gave him hope.

“It’s 20 bucks, but coming from Jack collecting his pennies it’s worth 20 million bucks to me and to our community. This gives me hope because this means it’s not one versus the other.”

Jack’s act of kindness has been praised on social media.

Speaking about the vandalism, Mr Naeem said it was “very unexpected and quite honestly shocking”.

Pflugerville Police said it was being investigated as a hate crime, according to Kxan.com.

Since the Paris terror attacks on Friday in which 129 people were killed, reportedly deliberate attacks have taken place on mosques in different countries.

Mr Naeem told ABC News: “It’s become so commonplace where something goes wrong somewhere and people want to blame all Muslims. If anything, it’s a pointing indictment of the logical fallacy in our society’s way of thinking.”

On Tuesday, Police Scotland said they were treating a fire at the Bishopbriggs Cultural Centre in East Dunbartonshire, Scotland, which is used as a mosque, as “wilful fire-raising”.

Texas hummingbird migration almost over


This video from the USA is called Hummingbird Facts & Some Beautiful Footage.

From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA:

Hummingbirds’ Furious Feeding Nearing the End

After an incredible fall on the West Texas Hummingbird Feeder Cam, activity is starting to wind down for the winter. Ten species were seen during this short season by viewers, often appearing in a bewildering array of immature and adult plumages to make identification a challenge. Together we learned the sometimes cryptic clues to puzzling out each species’ identity, and over 1500 of you hazarded guesses in our two Hummingbird ID Challenge contests (thanks to cam sponsor Perky-Pet® for the hummingbird feeder prizes). Hummingbirds weren’t the only ones visiting, either—butterflies and Acorn Woodpeckers made appearances on cam, too! Take a moment to tell us which hummingbird species were your favorites, and you could win a Perky-Pet® hummingbird feeder of your own!

Cold winter weather will eventually lead to the hummingbirds heading downslope or further south by late November. The cam will go offline in late November; only three short months before we should start seeing the first Broad-tailed Hummingbirds of spring arriving. Thanks for a great season!

Attracting hummingbirds in winter is possible in some areas! Learn where and how.

The name buff-bellied hummingbird doesn’t do justice to the colorful and attractive plumage of this medium-large hummingbird with its turquoise, rufous, green and creamy coloration. The iconic hummingbird of the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, this hummer is a target bird for many birders visiting that area. This is one of very few hummingbird species in North America where males and females look similar: here.

Acorn woodpecker, hummingbirds at Texas feeder, video


This video from Texas in the USA shows first hummingbirds, then an acorn woodpecker, at the hummingbird feeder on 30 October 2015.

Help Mexican freetail bats


This video from the USA says about itself:

25 October 2015

Bracken cave is the home of 15 million Mexican freetail bats, the largest bat colony in the world. You can help protect the cave by adopting a Mexican freetail bat through BCI’s Adopt-a-bat program! Visit www.batcon.org/adopt.