The Slatest

Hundreds Gather to Mourn Sandra Bland Amid Lingering Questions of her Death

The sister of Sandra Bland, Shavon Bland, left, is embraced before her sister’s funeral service at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, on July 25, 2015 in Lisle, Illinois.

Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images

Family and friends of Sandra Bland, who was found dead in a Texas jail under mysterious circumstances, gathered on Saturday to bid farewell to a woman who was remembered as a “courageous voice” for social justice, reports the Associated Press. Hundreds attended the funeral that was held close to the Chicago suburb where she grew up a day after an autopsy report claimed Bland used a plastic bag to hang herself three days after she was arrested for a minor traffic violation.

“So many people arrived for the funeral that Lisle police directed traffic and an overflow crowd was directed to the church’s basement to watch the ceremony on a live video feed,” reports Reuters.

Many of those who attended the funeral expressed doubts about the official explanation for Bland’s death. The New York Times reports:

The Rev. Theresa Dear, an associate minister at DuPage,had known Ms. Bland since she started attending the church as a young girl. Ms. Dear said the official account of Ms. Bland’s death clashed with her memories of an ambitious, educated Christian who was excited about the future and who had helped organize the church’s recent Women’s Day event.

“This is someone who had over 50 selfies, healthy self-esteem,” said Ms. Dear, who is also a national board member of the N.A.A.C.P. “Someone who had two job offers. Someone who just talked to her family and knew that help and rescue was on the way. This is someone who knew the Lord, and was extremely close with her church family and her sisters, her biological family.

“None of that adds up to taking one’s life or suicide.”

The continuing accusations of a cover-up, which are based on everything from serious questions about inconsistencies in the official story to outlandish claims, expose just how much mistrust there is of the police in the United States, notes the Guardian. “The case of Sandra Bland is an exclamation point on the reasoning of why it is that black Americans feel disdain and distrust for police,” said Jamal Bryant, a Baltimore pastor and activist. “People simply do not believe them.”

Associate Pastor Reverend Theresa Dear arrives for the funeral service of Sandra Bland at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, on July 25, 2015 in Lisle, Illinois.  

Photo by Jonathan Gibby/Getty Images