Sandra Bland's Traffic Stop Is Part of a Larger Trend in Waller County's Racially Charged Policing Tactics

Recent data confirms that "driving while black" is treated as a crime in Waller County and elsewhere across America.

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Complex Original

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The death of Sandra Bland has once again reignited the nationwide debate surrounding the continued prevalence of racially motivated police brutality, a profoundly disconcerting reality which continues to degrade social progress and any hope for a unified future. Though prosecutors continue to label Bland's death as a suicide (while repeatedly insisting that marijuana usage implies some sort of guilt, a maddening though hardly surprising character-shaming tactic), a growing number of citizens are far from convinced.

How did a routine traffic stop in Waller County, Texas stemming from Bland's supposed "failure to signal a lane change" escalate to a full-blown arrest and — eventually — her death? Better yet, why? Of course, even a cursory search for such answers reveals depressingly predictable statistics consistent with the self-proving narrative of police as figures of modern institutionalized soldiers of oppression. Mother Jonesgathered the data, coming to the conclusion that Waller County's traffic stop tactics are very clearly indicative of a far-from-equal practice of discernment from individual officers:

According to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement's data, more than 29 percent of traffic stops in 2014 involved black drivers. However, just 26 percent of Waller County's population is black. Meanwhile, white drivers — representing a whopping 70 percent of the county's population — were involved in a disproportionate amount of traffic stops, accounting for just 44 percent of all incidents. To place this firmly within the context of a larger national problem, policing tactics in a developed nation should never render this type of data. We should be leading the way on police reform, not slipping further into the depths of a violent and embarrassing ignorance.

Only 9 days this year when the police have not killed somebody #SandraBland

— Kate Nash (@katenash) July 24, 2015


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