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‘Sandra Bland died because officer didn’t see her as human’

PICTURED: Sandra Bland

SANDRA BLAND died because the officer who arrested her didn’t see her as human, her sister has said.

Writing in USA Today, Sharon Cooper, Bland’s sister, has spoken out about how the US justice system is failing black Americans.

“Despite all of the work I’ve done over the past four years to piece myself back together after her untimely death, I became unraveled as I was reminded of what I’ve always known: My sister died because a police officer saw her as a threatening black woman rather than human,” she wrote.

Cooper’s comments come days after footage Bland filmed of her arrest was made public for the first time.

Bland had recently moved to Texas when she was pulled over by an officer for a traffic violation.

Three days after her arrest she was found dead in her cell at Waller County jail. Her death was recorded as suicide but her family have questioned the circumstances around her death.

In the brief video clip that Bland filmed on her mobile, which was released last week, the officer can be heard shouting: “I will light you up.”

In the op-ed for USA Today, Cooper also reveals how she felt when she viewed the footage. The family have said they were not aware of it until it was discovered by news organisation WFAA.

“When I watched the video, I was immediately reminded of where I was four years ago writing my 28-year-old sister’s obituary on tear-stained paper. The prevailing thought in my mind was: ‘This is hard, but I know her death will not be in vain because this is America and we’ll get justice.’”

But in the years since her sister’s death, Cooper said she has learned that the pursuit of justice is a marathon, not a sprint.

“In travelling this gruelling road, one thing became crystal clear to me: The foundational promises of justice and freedom come at a sacrificial cost to black Americans as we demand to be seen and heard regardless of our gender, age, educational attainment and socioeconomic status. When we’re thrust into unsolicited encounters with law enforcement, it leaves us bruised, humiliated and with a loss of dignity not otherwise experienced by a majority of Americans who benefit from the liberties promised by ‘our’ America,” Cooper wrote.

In the midst of the uncertainty over whether the investigation into Bland’s death will be reopened – a number of politicians and high profile figures have called for it to be – or if her family will ever get the justice they seek, Cooper said she is determined to continue to fight for the freedom of black Americans.

“My sister was unafraid. Her strength gives us the power to continue to fight for her and say her name,” Cooper said.

You can read the entire piece here.

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