Vigils and ceremonies are planned this week to mark the one-year anniversary of the death of Sandra Bland, a black woman who died in a Texas jail cell after a traffic stop.
Bland died a year ago Wednesday after a Texas state trooper pulled her over three days earlier. She was taken to the Waller County jail in Hempstead, Texas, where she was found hanging from a jail cell partition three days later. A plastic garbage bag was around her neck. A medical examiner ruled it a suicide. Dashcam video of her arrest and the circumstances of her death provoked national outrage.
Bland had been moving to Texas from the Chicago area at the time of her death. A vigil is planned Wednesday evening in Chicago's Federal Plaza to mark the anniversary of her death hosted by the group Women's All Points Bulletin, which supports female victims of police violence, and Black Lives Matter Chicago. One of Bland's sisters, Shante Needham, is scheduled to introduce the vigil, which will include prayer, poetry readings and a gospel music performance.
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Separately, the suburban Chicago church where Bland grew up, DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lisle, plans candle-lighting ceremonies Sunday during its 8:15 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services.
Bland's mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, is scheduled to speak at the church Aug. 13 and the church plans a trip to Prairie View, Texas, Nov. 9-12. There church members plan a peaceful prayer meeting outside the jail where Bland died. They also plan to tour Prairie View A&M University, Bland's alma mater, and celebrate services with Hope AME Church in Prairie View, which has hosted rallies and prayer gatherings in Bland's memory.
DuPage AME Church also plans its Sandra A. Bland Diversity Institute on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. The Rev. James Miller, pastor of the church, said the ceremonies are designed to comfort Bland's family and congregants who knew her.
The anniversary comes the week after five Dallas police officers were killed by a sniper during a protest over recent killings of black men by police. Miller said it's clear from the current landscape in the U.S. that social inequities exist.
"The African-American community cannot be the only ones talking about civil rights and equity," Miller said. "It's when white people start talking about it that real action can take place."