Sandra Bland’s Mother Speaks At Congressional Caucus On Black Women & Girls

Photo: Paul Zimmerman/WireImage.
Lawmakers, public figures, and the relatives of Black women killed by institutional state violence have gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls this week. Three Congresswomen — Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Robin Kelly (D-IL) — spearheaded the caucus after being petitioned by the #SheWoke Committee. It's the first caucus devoted to creating public policy that will eliminate societal barriers that continue to marginalize Black women and keep them disproportionately vulnerable to violence. Among the #SheWoke committee is Sharon Cooper, the sister of Sandra Bland, a black woman who was found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015 after what video footage revealed to be an excessively violent arrest by white male police officers. At the Caucus this week, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, spoke out — not just on her late daughter’s behalf, but on behalf of six other black women who died in jail around the same time, and the myriad other black women mistreated and even killed by law enforcement every year. “I am here representing the mothers who are not heard,” Reed-Veal said. “I am here representing the mothers who have lost children as we go on about our daily lives. When the cameras and the lights are gone, our babies are dead. And life goes on. So I’m here asking you to wake up. Wake up!” Protests and public outcry against racially charged police brutality have persisted in the subsequent months since 28-year-old Bland’s untimely death. Security footage of Bland in police custody was released, exacerbating the public outrage over the case. Celebrities spoke out, from Nicki Minaj (“She could have been me,” the rapper said) to Kim Kardashian.

Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who arrested Bland, was charged with perjury
in connection to the traffic stop which led to Bland’s arrest and death. Echoing many activists’ suspicions of foul play, Reed-Veal reiterated she does not believe her daughter killed herself.

Read the full transcript of Geneva Reed-Veal’s speech here

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