A #SayHerName candlelight vigil for Sandra Bland will take place this Wednesday, December 30th at Union Square Park after last week’s verdict from a grand jury failed to indict anyone from the Texas jail involved in the mysterious circumstances that led to Bland’s July arrest and subsequent death at the jail. (The case is still considered “open.”) The vigil will begin at 7 p.m. and include performances and poetry. Attendees are asked to bring candles.
It has been nearly a year since a hashtag that began over a black teen who was shot dead by a white police officer started an entire social movement. In that time, “Black Lives Matter” has flourished, exposing generations-old problems of violent policing tactics and cracks in the criminal justice system.
But Black Lives Matters as a slogan almost inherently refers to the black male lives that are disproportionately more likely to experience violent run-ins with police. The most prominent cases that launched the movement in its early stages were almost exclusively men or boys – Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice. And activists within the movement are often quick to point out that efforts to be more inclusive, to emphasize that all lives matter, simply miss the point.
The narrative took a major turn beyond activist circles and into the mainstream after a video went viral in the case of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old activist who was arrested after a routine traffic stop and found dead in her jail cell three days later.
Outrage over her arrest and the mystery surrounding her death appeared to be the last straw for advocates, coming just weeks after a video at a pool party gone awry in Texas captured a police officer brandishing his gun and pinning a teenage girl to the crowd as she’s clad only in a bikini and yelling out for help.
Calls are growing to elevate the profiles of the black women and girls who suffer violence at the hands of police. A campaign dubbed “Say Her Name” is organizing to make sure they are not left out of the movement, and that their names be remembered.
Facebook page for the December 30th Candlelight vigil.
Above Photo: Christian K. Lee/AP (Vigil for Sandra Bland, July 28, 2015, in Chicago)