As Sandra Bland was laid to rest on Saturday, mourners delivered powerful remembrances of the 28-year-old activist who reportedly died by suicide in a Texas jail after an arrest for a minor traffic infraction earlier this month.
Her mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, was the last to speak at the service, attended by hundreds at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle, Ill., according to the Chicago Tribune. While addressing mourners, she did not cry as she spoke clearly and decisively about her daughter, who was excited about starting a new job and wouldn’t have taken her own life, Reed-Veal says.
“I’m the mama, and I’m telling you that my baby did not take herself out,” she said, according to the Tribune. “The fact is, I’m the mama. And I still don’t know what happened. You think you’re mad? I’m mad, too.”
The church was jam-packed with people from across the nation, many of them wearing royal blue and gold, the colors of Bland’s sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho. An overflow crowd listened to the service via speakers in the lobby or watched on closed-circuit TV in the church’s backroom, the report says. Some attendees wore blue T-shirts that read “#SandySpeaks.”
Just like her mother, few people at the funeral believed the official narrative about Bland’s cause of death after the July 10 traffic stop that was captured by a patrol car dash cam. And many complained about police violence against blacks.
“I don’t know Sandra, and I don’t know what happened,” said Hank Brown of Chicago. “But I do know she didn’t have to die. There’s an epidemic of police terror in this country, and people need to stand up.”
An autopsy report released Friday found that Bland reportedly used a plastic trash bag to hang herself three days after her confrontational arrest on a street northwest of Houston, the report says.
In closing, her mother reflected on her daughter’s calling, which was to go to the South and stop the injustices against blacks, the Tribune writes.
“Sandy knew what her purpose was,” she said, according to the Tribune. “Some call it a tragedy. Some call it a travesty. But I’ve got to call it testimony.”
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.