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Sandra Bland activists demand justice; Texas Trooper indicted, fired

By Fabian Van Onzin

Protesters gather outside the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead, Texas.

Hempstead, TX—Twenty-five activists protested outside the grand jury at the Waller County Courthouse on January 6. The grand jury met to determine whether or not to indict Texas Trooper Brian Encinia for the unlawful arrest of Sandra Bland. Trooper Encinia lied about forcefully removing Bland from her car while yelling, “I will light you up!”

The grand jury decided to indict Texas State Trooper Encinia for perjury, but not for “assault, battery or abuse of his official power.” A few hours later Trooper Encinia found out he was fired.

This follows a recent grand jury decision not to indict any sheriff’s officials or jailers suspected of murdering Sandra Bland. Bland was found hanging dead in her cell with a plastic bag wrapped around her neck, just three days after Trooper Encinia arrested her on a traffic violation.

Houston organizers with the National Black United Front spoke demanding justice for Sandra Bland. Protesters at the rally chanted, “Say Her Name: Sandra Bland!” They then marched around the courthouse chanting, “No justice, and no fear, Sandra Bland marches here!”

Soon after a group of twenty State Troopers marched to the courthouse in military formation, passing the protesters with an officer barking out cadence.

Encinia’s perjury charge is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum $4,000 dollar fine and up to a year in prison. Jinaki Muhammad with the National Black United Front called the misdemeanor charge “a slap in the face to the Bland family.”

Houston activists are upset with the grand jury, the prosecutor, and the whole justice system. The nationwide movement against police crimes continues to grow with each grand jury ruling.

Encinia’s trial begins on January 23, 2017.

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