Reported by Liku Zelleke
Pastor James F. Miller, from the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, wrote a letter to the community where he described his sorrow for the death of Sandra Bland, 28.
He wrote, “To our great sorrow and bewilderment, twenty-eight-year-old, Sandra Bland, an active young adult who grew up in our church family, has passed. Sandy was in the custody of authorities in Waller County Texas, after being stopped for a routine traffic violation. She died while in their custody. As her church family, we mourn.”
The message went on to say that as a tribute to the “vibrant young person Sandy was as a member of DuPage AME Church for 18 years” a “Prayer Walk” around the church grounds as a public expression of unity and desire for justice in her – and so many others – case would be held on Sunday, July 19th.
“A Petition Signing to urge a comprehensive investigation with integrity regarding the circumstances surrounding her death will occur in conjunction with the walk,” the message went on to state. “Please stay in prayer for her family, our church family, the African Methodist Episcopal Church family and persons everywhere who desire to live by truth and justice. Prayerfully, Pastor James F. Miller. “
A participant of the walk, Colette Bingham-Henderson, said, “We weren’t demonstrating. We weren’t protesting. We were walking in unity with Sandy.”
She and several hundred other worshippers who attended that walk remember a Sandra, who 18 years ago arrived as a “rambunctious” girl who they say made friends easily. She grew up to be a “strong-willed” woman who was excited about her new job at her alma mater, they said.
They also said the woman they called “Sandy B” wasn’t the kind of woman who would have taken her own life.
“She was about to start another chapter of her life. For this to happen and for them to say that she committed suicide, that’s not the Sandy that we know. The Sandy we know is a lover of God, is a lover of community, is a lover of the church, of her family and life,” said fellow DuPage AME member Deitra Tribble.
Sandra was found dead last Monday morning in a jail cell three days after she had been pulled over for a traffic violation and charged with assaulting a police officer. An autopsy done by Texas authorities ruled her death as suicide by hanging.