Thinking of SANDRA (#SayHerName)

Thinking of SANDRA
“Well, if you don’t want a negative interaction with the police don’t do anything criminal.”
Every time I hear or see this statement I roll my eyes to the back of my head and count to ten before I snap. Some people really think it’s that easy to avoid adverse reactions with the police and yes, for some people it is.
            As I look at the video of Sandra Bland’s arrest I think back to the summer of 2013 and my own negative interaction with the police. I attended college in a rural and some would say desolate corner of North Carolina that borders the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Often times when I needed certain items I would have to travel to nearby Chesapeake, VA to get them.

            One evening I was traveling down the isolated stretch of highway that takes you to Virginia when I was pulled over in Camden County, NC. I was driving through a 60 going 62 so when the cop’s car zoomed up behind me I thought it was a mistake or I was in his way. As my heart beat out of my chest the officer approached my vehicle. Mind you, I had never been pulled over a day in my life.
            I asked what the problem was he refused to answer. He just said I’ll let you know I need to see your license and registration. I was so nervous it took for what seemed like an eternity to locate my driver’s license. Finally I found the proper documents and gave them to the officer. When I looked back into the my review I saw that not one, not two but three additional cop cars (including a K9 unit) had joined him. My mind raced a mile a minute. The K9 walked around my car and left. After detaining me on the side of the road for 10 minutes as passer-bys rubbernecked to see what was going. I’m sure if I would have passed by a car surrounded by four cop cars I would have rubbernecked to at such a spectable (I mean c’mon if that many cops are on the scene they had to have done “something”).
            The officer finally let me go after the 10 minutes with no explanation about why I had been pulled in the first place. I was pissed and confused because I knew I had done nothing wrong. But I knew the situation could’ve ended so much worse. I could’ve ended up locked up on trumped up charges. I could’ve ended up dead because the officer feared for their lives. I always wonder how the situation would have played out if a male friend were on the car, a black male friend. Would they have asked to search the car? Would they have harassed him?
            We’ve seen the narrative played out time and time again. But I have said all of that to say this not all negative interactions between police and citizens are because that person did something wrong. Some police do abuse their power and go out of their way to make the life of citizens harder. And they can do this with impunity.

            I could’ve been Sandra Bland. This woman had her life ahead of her and it ended in a cold, isolated jail cell with more questions than answers.


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