Demonstrators participate in a rally outside the Waller County Jail. (Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
Demonstrators participate in a rally outside the Waller County Jail. (Photo by Jesse Muhammad)
Demonstrators participate in a rally outside the Waller County Jail. (Photo by Jesse Muhammad)

By Marilyn Marshall
Special to the NNPA from the Houston Defender

HOUSTON (NNPA) – Demonstrators who recently gathered outside the Waller County Jail demanded justice for Sandra Bland, remembered African-Americans who were killed by police, and called for a boycott.

“We are uniting with other communities, organizations and particularly with Prairie View A&M University students to launch and institute a fall semester economic boycott of Waller County,” said Houston activist Deric Muhammad. “We’re asking Prairie View students, parents, faculty and alumni to only spend their monies with Black businesses in Waller County.”

The county has been under fire since Bland, 28, was found dead in her jail cell on July 13. Her death occurred three days after she was stopped by Trooper Brian Encinia for a minor traffic violation, which led to her arrest after allegedly assaulting an officer.

An autopsy determined that Bland hung herself with a plastic garbage bag while in custody. Bland’s family and friends dispute the autopsy finding, and insist that she was looking forward to a new job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M Universit

Using an analogy, Muhammad noted that PVAMU’s colors are purple and gold.

“Purple represents royalty and gold represents money,” he said. “Waller County looks at PVAMU and doesn’t see the purple. All they see is the gold. So if we put our gold back in our pockets, we force them to see our value, we force them to see the purple.”

Muhammad said even though Bland’s name “is beginning to fade from the headlines,” many people are still dissatisfied with the information that has been released by Waller County.

“We still are not convinced that Sandra Bland took her own life,” he said. “We still believe she was murdered.”

Muhammad said it’s important to recall others whose lives were lost.

“We remember Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray and the young man killed in Arlington, Christian Taylor. We reflect on how it has been 365 days since Michael Brown lay in the streets dying and suffering from a police officer in Ferguson. Since then, dozens of others have died and in 99 percent of those cases we have seen no justice at all,” Muhammad said.

“We’ve seen an indictment here and there but no police officers have been punished for killing in 365 days. That says that we have to do more than march. We have to do more than protest and rally.”

Muhammad noted that PVAMU sits on land that was once a plantation. He said back then, the plantation was viewed by Waller County as just a source of revenue.

“I contend that you have the same dynamic here today,” Muhammad said. “Waller County has no respect for Prairie View. If Prairie View was an IBM or Apple plant, they would tell their law enforcement officers to leave their people alone.

“But they do the opposite with Prairie View. They ride officers up and down University Boulevard profiling people and looking for reasons to pull them over. That’s what happened with Sandra Bland. At the end of the day, that officer was out there trying to bring in revenue.”

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