The bottom line here is, because Trooper Encinia didn’t like her attitude, Sandra Bland ended up dead. That was the precipitating cause of the whole grim saga, the factor without which none of the rest of it would have happened.
In Encinia’s previous traffic stop, the driver went on her way uneventfully. Probably most of his official encounters with women ended with nothing more strenuous than exchanges of paper. Like any male cop, Encinia had dealt with hundreds of women who despised him, but who took the trouble to construct a mask that would please him. Through the centuries, women have developed ways of facing male authority by adopting various submissive attitudes — flirtatious, repentant, helpless, ditzy but harmless, etc.
Sandra didn’t play that. With a rough year behind her and a lengthy to-do list ahead, she just wanted to turn the page and move on from this interruption. In the early part of the conversation, she wasn’t rude or challenging, but straightforward and matter-of-fact, like a grown-ass woman who had evolved past staging any kind of minstrel show.
But in the mind of a cop, refusal to play one of the traditional roles is interpreted as defiance. A woman is supposed to make the effort, and gin up some pathetic charade to flatter a cop’s ego. When she doesn’t, the very foundations of his world are threatened. She implies that he is not worth pandering to, and he reads that as contempt.
What killed Sandra Bland is the fact that Contempt of Cop has become the paramount crime, the unforgivable sin, the one thing that cannot be endured. If a person’s disdain for law enforcers is not immediately apparent on the surface, cops are expert at drawing it out. With practiced technique, Encinia picked and poked at Sandra, seeking her bullshit tolerance limit. After one of the many articles about her death, an online commenter wrote:
She got the “treatment” because of contempt of cop. It’s not a crime but the officers will find a way to make you pay if you show contempt.
Another anonymous commenter who claimed to be a peace officer wrote,
Sure, he let her mess with him too much.
Excuse me? She was messing with him? Only a really twisted mind could make that interpretation. The same person added,
The officer was attempting something special called “interdiction,” where he’s using the premise of minor infractions to look for larger things.
The use of the word “special” in that context is nauseating. Also, interdiction means to stop something from traveling to from point A to point B. Apparently, the cops have redefined it to mean wasting a citizen’s time with a lot of bullshit questions. The object is to “keep the dialog going to give you more time to be around the vehicle and to break down the person’s story… and get them to agree to a search of their vehicle.”
Of course there is no official “contempt of cop” charge. A cop has to write it up as disturbing the peace, interfering with an officer, resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, or whatever else his imagination suggests. But the person is really being arrested for Contempt of Cop. And as we will discuss further, the perceived contempt does not even have to be behavior that any reasonable, normal person would recognize or describe as contempt – which is, after all, a very strong emotion. No, all it takes is neglecting to show the precise degree of ass-kissing the cop thinks he deserves. It isn’t just me saying this. Attorney John Hamasaki wrote of Sandra Bland,
She was in that position, in that jail cell, because of unlawful police action…
Who put her through this ordeal? Why did all of this have to happen?
Because she didn’t properly show the amount of deference and respect the officer wanted.
Race and personality
Sandra Bland was charged with “Assault on a Public Servant” and the irony is, few cops act like servants. They act like plantation overseers. A very naive person might expect that Encinia would be a better cop because of his Hispanic heritage. But it doesn’t work that way.
There are people who wake up thinking, “I’m gonna fuck with somebody today,” and they go to bed thinking, “I really fucked with somebody today!” For some mysterious reason these people are often law enforcement professionals. Their job is to fuck with people, and anyone who objects to being fucked with is, by their definition, showing contempt for their very existence.
There are people of this personality type in every race, and no doubt they have their own justifications. People whose families were persecuted react in different ways. Some are radicalized and become bitter enemies of the State. Others feel called to become part of the structure of oppression and repression, because anything is better than the chaos they were raised in.
It’s a polarizing issue that opens up a strange divide between activists who call for more black and brown cops, and the ones who call for fewer cops, period. One group believes that if more POC were cops, things would be better in the neighborhood. On the other side, people have noticed that black and brown cops can be just as bastardly as their pale counterparts – and maybe even more so, because they are motivated to prove to the authorities and the public that they are equal-opportunity brutalizers who show no favor to dark skin.
Maybe a white person has no business even speculating on the mental processes of minority cops. But these thoughts were found in the writings of Michael H. Cottman of BlackAmericaWeb.com:
In the case of Freddie Gray, it’s not a simple case of racism and policing: Three of the six police officers charged in Gray’s death are Black, which underscores that the pervasive flawed police culture transcends race…
Recruitment of Black officers has been increasingly difficult over the years because many Black men harbor such distrust toward cops that they could never see themselves as part of what they perceive as a racist culture in law enforcement…
I believe community policing and more Black police officers, can slowly rebuild trust in the Black community and reduce police profiling and shootings of unarmed men and women.
I believe, all things being equal, that if more Black cops are patrolling Black neighborhoods, tensions in communities of color could be diffused…