How Black Women Feel At The Two-Year Mark Since Sandra Bland's Death

Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old Black woman, died in a Texas jail cell after a routine traffic stop on July 13, 2015. Two years later, people are still protesting, urging Americans to continue to #SayHerName.
Bland was arrested for not using a turn signal. The arresting officer called Bland "combative and uncooperative" in the arrest warrant, but was later indicted for perjury. He was fired from his job, but the charges against him were dropped. The 28-year-old was found dead in her jail cell three days after the arrest. Officials said she had hanged herself, but her family rejected the claim that she killed herself.
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Her family settled a federal wrongful-death lawsuit for $1.9 million last year, and was promised changes would be made to jail procedures in Waller County, TX, where she died.
Two years after Bland's death, dozens of people marched to the Texas capitol on Thursday, and New Yorkers held a rally in her honor in Brooklyn on Thursday night. Despite the rain, the Brooklyn crowd chanted, sang, and spoke about the continued need to stand up against police brutality.
"I feel like everyone forgot," said Ruth, 27, at the demonstration. "So, even just walking past here right now made me feel like this needed to happen, because a lot of us just kind of forgot. We need to be reminded that this is still happening, and we still need to be active and proactive about what we're doing."
One of the speakers, Mia Anderson, reminded the Brooklyn crowd about the power of Black women — from Sandra Bland, to Harriet Tubman, to the women at the demonstration.
"Know that worth as a Black woman is always valid — is always important. We are the mothers of this movement," Anderson said.
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Refinery29 spoke to eight Black women at the New York rally about how they felt at the two-year mark of Bland's death.
The interviews have been edited and condensed.
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Natasha, 27



"I can’t help but feel numb, because it’s been a year [since] so many other incidents has happened, and nothing has changed.

"I’m actually happy to see this going on in my neighborhood, making it way more aware. This is my first time seeing this where I live, so that’s good. I’m so happy that there’s more awareness being brought to the community now. Hopefully it will help start a change. It may not start a change today, but hopefully it will lead to that."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Kawana, 42



"I feel really disappointed. I feel disappointed in the police, who are here to so-called 'protect' us, but yet they’re the first ones who harass us. On their police car in New York it says ‘courtesy, professionalism’ and something else that’s supposed to be positive, but yet they do not display those actions to Black people at all — Black women, Black men, and especially the young Black youth.

"So that’s why I’m here to take a stand. I have two sons who are Black, a 9-year-old and a 23-year-old, so I’m here for them."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Mia, "over 40"



"I feel like the struggle still continues. I feel empowered by the fact that there's such a response to Sandra Bland.

"I'm inspired by the fact that there are people two years later remembering her name. I feel sad that now she's become a hashtag, because I feel like that's a result. I sort of understand Jordan Edwards' family not wanting to go that route, because it becomes like a martyr to the movement.

"But I feel also inspired that two years later, there is still a movement. That it didn't just die down."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Simone, 24



"It's sad to me because you know that this woman died, and I feel like not enough took place to find out what caused her death, and justice wasn't served."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Kimberly, 25



"I didn’t really think anybody was still protesting on her behalf, but I’m happy to see there’s still people out here who care about the result and how everything went down. I’m actually surprised and probably happy — like, I have people, even if something was to happen to me and it wasn’t how it was supposed to go down. And there’s still somebody out there fighting for justice for someone that’s gone.

"It really doesn’t matter who’s doing it, it just matters why you guys are doing it. And if it’s because of police brutality, why not? Because everybody gets it once in a while."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Yveanne, 55



"It's what's always in our minds — it's the fact that we will never get justice when it comes for somebody that gets killed by the police. It's a shame that with our justice system, we always predict that. The fact that way before it happened, we know that they're going to go scot-free, there's not going to be no justice.

"That's the sad truth that we get today."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Natasha, 42



"I feel like we have not accomplished anything. Justice has not moved forward. It's the same old story every day. Be it Sandra Bland or any other Black person... We can predict the verdict. The outcome is always the same.

"I think that it's an insult every time we talk about this and Black Lives Matter, that we have a chorus of people that say 'All lives matter.' Of course all lives matter — all lives won't matter unless Black lives matter.

"Change has been very slow, and it feels like whatever little headway we started to make was reversed under this administration. So, we just have to keep on fighting. We have no other choice but to. I hope that one day, within my lifetime, there would be major change. It's time."
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Photographed by Lauren Holter.

Ingrid, Age Not Given



"Nothing has really changed in the two years. We still have a long ways to go. This is good; this is a start.

"I just wish there would be more people involved. I know everyone is tired, and they want to go home, but they should come over and see what's going on over here and participate. Because it might be someone else's sign today, but ours tomorrow. We don't know.

"We need to get involved more. We need more community closeness, brotherly love. We need more, maybe, demonstrations like this in the area. I think it helps. We need community board meetings to sit and talk. We don't always have to have a rally. Sometimes, it would be good to just have it in a community-meeting setting and discuss the issues instead of having to do it on the streets like this. But, this is a start. It's a good start."
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