Statement on the Arrest and Death of Sandra Bland

Washington, D.C. (July 23, 2015) – The African American Mayors Association (AAMA) is deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding the arrest and death of Sandra Bland in Prairie View, Texas. AAMA urges state and federal authorities to swiftly hold accountable anyone who is found to have violated Ms. Bland’s constitutional rights.

“Like many across America we are deeply troubled by the events surrounding Sandra Bland’s arrest and death and we firmly believe that only a truly transparent investigation can ever hope to answer the difficult questions before us,” said AAMA President Mayor Steve Benjamin (Columbia, SC). “To that end and as President of the African American Mayors Association, today I sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch fully supporting the FBI’s decision to coordinate with local and state authorities not only in monitoring the ongoing investigation as it develops but also serving as an independent review once it is completed.”

“As leaders we must not only react to this tragedy, but do all we can to prevent similar tragedies in our communities. Through the newly established AAMA Justice Reform Task Force chaired by Mayor Toni Harp (New Haven, CT), our member mayors will work to identify community policing best practices that ensure everyone is treated fairly and with full respect for their rights during all interactions with law enforcement. Then and only then can justice truly be served.”

AAMA Member Mayor Frank D. Jackson (Prairie View, TX) issued the following statement regarding the incident:

“Our sympathies are with the family of Ms. Sandra Bland for their loss. The family is justifiably concerned about the circumstances of her death, and they deserve answers. This incident is currently being investigated by county and state law enforcement agencies, as it should be.

At this time, it does not appear that any member of the Prairie View Police Department had any contact with Ms. Bland after her arrest and booking. Ms. Bland was not under the supervision or control of the Prairie View police at the time of her death or the days leading up to this tragic event.

Please know, however, that the City of Prairie View will do whatever is necessary to assist our law enforcement entities, and any other investigative agencies, to determine what caused the death of Sandra Bland.

We do know that a Prairie View police officer provided back-up for the DPS trooper who made the arrest. That officer’s conduct is under review for compliance with standard operating procedures. We will wait until the investigation is concluded to determine if any further action is to be taken by the City.

In the mean time, we join others in seeking a thorough and complete investigation, and that it proceed as quickly as possible so that we can all find answers to the many questions surrounding Ms. Bland’s final hours.”

Media Contact: Everton Morris, AAMA Deputy Executive Director, Everton@ourmayors.org

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