On the day of my 39th birthday, I was home alone sitting in front of my computer when there came a knock on the door. I felt a bit of excitement, maybe someone remembered my birthday? I was alone and my husband at the time was in jail. I was admittedly living in a constant state of sadness in those days; my life was completely out of control. The thought of a friend dropping by to spend the evening with me would have been welcomed.
I went to the door, and when I answered it, there was a police officer, which I knew. He had been at my house previously when I reported a car prowl on my vehicle. On that occasion, he was very helpful and went above and beyond in my opinion. He looked at me, and I could see the disappointment on his face. He said to me, “Jumapili I am so sorry.”
My first thought was he was going to tell me something horrible happened to my husband. I braced myself and invited the police officer to come in. As he stepped in the door, he repeated he was sorry and informed me that he had a warrant for my arrest. Immediately I felt relief, confusion, surprise, and fear. I am a law abiding citizen, vocal and confrontational but don’t go out breaking laws that would cause a police officer to arrest me. He sympathetically explained to me that he had a Material Witness warrant for me and would have to take me to jail. I had been unflinchingly refusing to agree to testify against my husband at the time. Though I was repeatedly advised by legal counsel not to do so, I was angry at the pressure the prosecutor was attempting to push on me. I was a flat out “uppity” in my responses to his, in my opinion, BS.
I asked the police officer if I could change because I was in pajamas, he said that was fine, but he would have to stand at the door but would not watch. We went upstairs, and I changed. I asked if he could please not take me out of my house in handcuffs. He also agreed to this request. He took me around the back of the house and handcuffed me and searched me and took me to jail. How about that for white privilege? He went so far as to attempt to call my attorney on the way to the jail several times. He was respectful, kind and yes seemed sympathetic to my situation.
I was handling this in my usual way by joking and laughing. Another case of you have to laugh to keep from crying situation in one’s life. I wasn’t scared, but I was pissed off. When we got to jail, I was subjected to the usual things, strip search and such that happen. However, the staff allowed me to copy numbers from my phone. They allowed me to make calls to people I needed to, such as my boss, a replacement to go to work for me while I worked things out, again my attorney. They were methodical and went about their business professionally, I believe looking back on it. I was even probably required to fill out the same kind of paperwork that Sandra Bland had to. Did I say I have PTSD, did I admit to wanting also to kill myself over the loss of child a few years before? I can’t remember, yet all of these things were also true for me.
It wasn’t until I stepped into the elevator with a guard to go to the cell block that I absolutely lost my cookies. I just started sobbing, and I felt like I could not stand. The guard was comforting, but firm, he said if I didn’t pull it together he would take me to the infirmary. By the time we reach the cell block I had calmed down, I knew this wasn’t going to last forever and was not the end of my life. It wasn’t, I secured my release three days later. I was able to convince the judge that although she could keep me in jail as a coercive method. No amount of coercion would work on me because I say what I mean, I do what I say and I would not be testifying!
I understand that Sandra Bland was unlike me facing charges that may have resulted in additional sanctions, but were these life ending? I don’t think so. I can’t no matter what seem to wrap my mind around the idea that she would have thought so either. As vocal and “uppity” as she was during her arrest it is hard for me to imagine she just gave up, by all appearances she seemed like a fighter. Do we know the extent of the possible a brain injury from her assault by the arresting officer, could that play into what happened? Could her judgment have been impaired? Was this a cover-up to hide injuries? Was she provided medical care?
One thing that happened to me during my stay in jail was I was not provided my depression medication Effexor. The effects of Effexor withdrawal are: agitation, anorexia, anxiety, confusion, impaired coordination, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, dysphoric mood, fasciculation, fatigue, headaches, hypomania, insomnia, nausea, nervousness, nightmares, sensory disturbances (including shock-like electrical sensations), somnolence, sweating, tremor, vertigo, and vomiting. Was Sandra Bland like so many us on antidepressants? Was she being provided these medications?
Now the character assault begins, with the release of information about Sandra Bland’s possible use of marijuana. I use marijuana to ease the effects of chemo for breast cancer. Would this in any way justify finding me dead in a jail cell? This false prudent and judgment of all these children of the 60’s and their descendants run around with makes me sick. How many people have used marijuana? Fun fact: nearly half of the population in America!
It’s not just about the police saving their butts. The use of discrediting tactics is a shot across the bow of oppressed people, a warning for those who encounter cops. They are Gods in uniforms and carry firearms, they have the power and will not be questioned. It’s about protecting their authority… Kevin Cline
HOW DOES DISBELIEF TURN INTO SUICIDE?
I have been crying all morning while I write this. My broken heart can’t continue to see deaths like this go unanswered. I have outlined why I can’t believe Sandra Bland killed herself as it relates to my life experiences. This much disclosure was not comfortable and very personal for me. However, the even bigger issue is we have seen and heard about “death” of inmates, especially prisoners of color so often now. Despite what we see with our own eyes we are presented with justifications to why these human beings are mistreated, ignored, and dismissed. There is no more room left for police and jailers to be given the benefit of the doubt; there is alway reasonable doubt now. The system is so broken, and the justifications are so ludicrous one has to be thoroughly entrenched in their white privilege to not see it.