originally published: 7 February 2022
Monday marked the 35th birthday of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in police custody following a questionable traffic stop-turned violent by the arresting officer in Texas in 2015.
The online birthday party happening across social media helped draw attention to all the ways that Sandra Bland’s legacy lives on nearly seven years after her death.
Sandra Bland’s birthday came one day after that of Trayvon Martin, who would have turned 27 years old this weekend. Activists hope their deaths were not in vain as their names remain alive and more relevant than ever as police brutality and vigilante violence alike are still societal scourges killing Black lives with seeming impunity.
Back in 2015, Bland was arrested during the kind of pretextual traffic stop that ended up killing Daunte Wright in Minnesota last year.
That was when the 28-year-old was driving from her native Illinois to begin a new job at Prairie View A&M University when she was pulled over for a minor moving violation. But what should have been a routine ticketing experience quickly devolved into brutality when State Trooper Brian Encinia failed to de-escalate the encounter, which resulted in Bland being charged with assault.