Thursday, July 30, 2015

In Sandra Bland’s Death, Echos of LGBT History

This post originally appeared on the Equality Texas Blog

On March 8th, 1970, New York Police raided the Snake Pit Bar, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, arresting all 167 patrons and staff present.

Diego Vinales, a 23-year old undocumented Argentinian immigrant was one of those arrested. Depending on which account you believe Vinales either, fearing deportation, jumped from a 2nd story window in an attempt to escape and was impaled on the wrought iron fence below, or was pushed out of the window by police officers.

In a flyer protesting the police violence against Vinales the Gay Activist Alliance said “Any way you look at it, Diego Vinales was pushed. We are all being pushed… Anyone who calls himself a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.”

If this narrative sounds familiar to you: the story of someone arrested while disputably breaking the law then horrifically brutalized in police custody with a dispute ensuing over whether the brutality was self-inflicted or not – it should.

On July 10, 2015, a State Trooper pulled over a woman driving in Waller County, arresting her.

The woman arrested was Sandra Bland, a 28-year old business woman and civil rights activist from Illinois. Depending on which account you believe Bland either hung herself after being kept in a cell for five days following a minor traffic violation, or was hung by police.

Any way you look at it, Sandra Bland was pushed. We are all being pushed.

Tomorrow , July 30, the Texas House County Affairs Committee will convene hearings on “jail standards, procedures with regards to potentially mentally ill persons in county jails, as well as issues stemming from interactions between the general public and peace officers.” Thursday’s hearing begins at 2 pm in hearing room E1.026 at the Texas Capitol in Austin. If you are able to attend in solidarity, please do.
Anyone who calls themselves a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.

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