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Chicago Community Leaders Unite for Sandra Bland

Community leaders in Chicago are uniting in an effort to support the family of Sandra Bland as they pursue justice. Bland, a Chicago-area native, died in a Waller County, Texas, jail following a traffic stop.

The Texas Department of Public Safety found State Trooper Brian Encinia violated agency procedures when he stopped Bland, 28, for a traffic violation. The Harris County Medical Examiner ruled her jail cell hanging a suicide. But many feel uncertain about what the state of Texas has put forward as fact, and Bland’s family and supporters say the details they have received are insufficient.

On Tuesday, impassioned faith and community leaders gathered to brainstorm ways they can support Bland’s family in their search for justice.

“We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this young woman died in a cell she should not have been in in the first place,” said Pastor Ira Acree of Greater St. John Bible Church.

Bland’s mother Geneva Reed Veal filed a civil lawsuit one week ago, claiming important information about her daughter’s arrest and death is being withheld from her family and their attorneys.

“She reached out to friends in Houston first. Family was contacted a whole day later. And we were told we would get a call on Sunday. The Sunday call never came,” Reed Veal said.

She said she will not accept the story she has been handed until she reviews all of the information herself. Meantime, the Leaders Network hopes to attract a bigger crowd at subsequent meetings to advance their cause.

“We are pro-police! But we wanna rid the system of all of the negativity and all of the racism that exists,” said Acree.

The Leaders Network is also promoting the hashtag #JusticeForSandy and they’re encouraging people to sign an online petition demanding an independent investigation into Bland’s arrest and subsequent death.

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