sandra-bland-texas-act
Getty Images

Texas Passes Sandra Bland Act With Dismay By Family Due To Key Revisions

"It’s a complete oversight of the root causes of why she was jailed in the first place.”

Sandra Bland’s death continues to reign as precedence in a systemically-corrupt justice system in terms of the darker communities. As of Thursday (June 15), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ensured that the 28 year-old’s name would do the same on the state’s legislation.  Abbott signed the Sandra Bland Act into law in order to address the ultimately-fatal circumstances that led to Bland’s death in July 2015.

The law addresses issues from mental illness, substance abuse, de-escalation training for officers, investigating jail deaths. But, Bland’s family is disappointed with, what they claim as “gut-wrenching” revisions to the soon-to-be law.

Bland's sister Sharon Cooper expressed her dismay with the act in May, claiming, “It’s a complete oversight of the root causes of why she was jailed in the first place.”

The revisions that were removed included a requirement for additional proof for stopping and searching vehicles.

On July 10 in 2015, Bland was detained for initially being stopped for a traffic violation, which led to her denial of adhering to the officer’s request to put out her cigarette. She was forcefully removed from her vehicle and placed in jail with a $5,000 bond. In the three days following her arrest, Bland was found dead in her cell, with her death being ruled as a suicide.

While the Sandra Bland Act demands agencies investigate deaths that occur in correctional facilities, if a citizen is arrested for offenses punishable by a fine, they won't be covered under the new law.

Even though Cooper claimed the act was a “missed opportunity,” Houston native and author of the act, Garnet Coleman, praises the passing of the piece of legislature, stating, “It is time that we make progress in criminal justice reform that will keep both law enforcement and the public safe and prevent future tragedies like Sandra Bland’s.” The democrat continues to confirm that the act, set to be in effect September 1, has “many measures that will make everyone safer.”

From the Web

More on Vibe

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Disturbing Footage From Aftermath Of Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder Released

Travis McMichael , the man who shot and killed Ahmaud Arbery can be seen drenched in blood as he speaks with authorities in new body camera video obtained by the Glynn County police.

The footage, first reported by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Monday (Dec. 14), shows Travis McMichael recounting the deadly incident with authorities. His hands and forearms are covered in Arbery’s blood.

One police officer at the scene attempts to calm Travis McMichael before gently asking him if there’s anyone that he wants them to call on his behalf. She goes on to explain that he has to go to the police station as a formality, and asks if he sustained any injuries.

Travis McMichael paces around with his hands in his pockets, at times wiping blood of his arms and face, while blaming Arbery for his own murder. Arbery’s body lay on the ground and he was still breathing at one point in the video, according to USA Today.

While authorities investigate the shooting, Travis McMichael appears agitated and tells an officer, “I want it [the investigation] done right, because this doesn’t look good. I mean, I just shot a man. Last thing I’ve ever wanted to do in my life.”

Arbery, 25, was out for a jog before being chased in a pick-up truck, cornered and gunned down by Travis McMichael with his father, Greg McMichael, a retired investigator for the Brunswick Judicial Circuit D.A.’s office, by his side. Despite having no proof, father and son claim that they thought Arbery had been burglarizing the neighborhood.

Greg McMichael reportedly backed up his son’s account to police stating that his son “had no choice” but to kill Arbery. At least one  officer at the crime scene was familiar with Greg McMichael from his years in law enforcement and recent retirement.

In an additional recording, Greg McMichael says that he would have “shot him myself” and continues accusing Arbery of being the aggressor. “The guy turns and comes at him [Travis], and they start wrestling and Travis shoots him right in the damn chest,” he tells police. “The guy was trying to take the shotgun away from him [Travis].”

A third man, neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan filmed the incident on his cell phone and was later arrested for murder along with the McMichaels. Bryan has since questioned if they should have been following Arbery in the first place.

All three men remain jailed as they await trial on murder charges.

Click here to watch the body cam footage, but please be warned that the video is explicit.

Continue Reading
Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Bowie State And More HBCUs Receive Record-Breaking Donations From Billionaire

MacKenzie Scott is back at it! The billionaire venture philanthropist, novelist, and ex-wife of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, has donated tens of millions of dollars to several HBCUs in the last few days.

The week's isn't over yet, but so far, Scott has donated well over $100 million to historically Black colleges including Tougaloo College, which received $6 million on Wednesday (Dec. 16).

A day earlier, Scott gave a record $40 million each to Morgan State and Norfolk University, $25 million to Alcorn State University and Bowie State, $20 million to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore , and $15 million to Elizabeth City University.

Morgan State's $40 million gift is the largest single-party donation in the HBCU’s history, and the second-largest donation to a public Maryland university. 

“This monumental gift will change lives and shape futures,” Morgan State President David Wilson said in a statement. “I thank Ms. Scott for her due diligence and acknowledgement of the substantive value Morgan offers to so many throughout this nation and around the world, and entrusting that we will ensure the enduring impact of her generosity is truly transformational for many years to come.”

A majority of the donated funds will go to Morgan State’s newly established endowment fund. The remainder of the money will be used to continue the university’s efforts “essential to student success,” as well as advancing research and enhancing investments in other “mission-focused priorities and initiatives.”

Scott also donated millions to Howard University, Clark Atlanta and Delaware State University.

Her latest HBCU donation spree is a small portion of the $4 billion that she has given away over the last four months. The multi-billion dollar charitable windfall has been dispersed to 384 organizations and educational institutions in all 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.

And she’s still not done.

“Though I’m far from completing my pledge, this year of giving began with exposure to leaders from historically marginalized groups fighting inequities, and ended with exposure to thousands of organizations working to alleviate suffering for those hardest hit by the pandemic,” Scott wrote in a post on Medium.com. “Witnessing the determination, creativity, and compassion of people in a crisis has been inspiring.”

Continue Reading
Sean Rayford/Getty Images

Father And Son Who Brutally Murdered Ahmaud Arbery Denied Bail

Travis and Gregory McMichael, the father-son duo charged for the brutal murder of Ahmaud Arbery, were denied bail and must remain behind bars, a judge ruled on Friday (Nov. 13). Arbery’s mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones, urged the judge to keep Travis, 34, and Gregory, 64, in custody.

“These men are proud of what they've done,” she said according to NBC News. “In their selfish minds, they think they're good guys.”

William “Roddie” Bryan, a neighbor to the McMichales', was denied bail over the summer.

Bryan recorded Arbery’s murder. All three men have been indicted on suspicion of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment.

Investigators found racist text messages and social media posts from Travis McMichael,  Cobb County prosecutors noted in court on Thursday. Bryan also told authorities that he heard Travis use the n-word after fatally shooting Arbery.

Arbery, 25, was out for a jog in late February when the men, approached, cornered, and shot him to death. The incident was recorded on Bryan’s cell phone.

Continue Reading

Top Stories