HOUSTON - It was a night of worship and remembrance. Family and supporters held a memorial service for Sandra Bland in the All Faiths Chapel on the campus of Prairie View A&M University, Bland's alma mater.
Nearly 200 people showed up to honor the woman who allegedly hanged herself inside a cell at the Waller County Jail. One of those was her mother.
"I have a baby to put in the empty ground this week," Geneva Reed-Veal said from the podium.
Reed-Veal shared details about the last time she spoke to her daughter. She also talked about how happy the 28-year-old seemed to be returning from her native Chicago to Prairie View for a new job. What many weren't expecting to hear was her mother's belief that Bland was meant to die last week based on something she said in one of their last conversations.
"She said, 'Mama, now I know what my purpose is,'" Reed-Veal recounted. "'My purpose is to go back to Texas. My purpose is to stop all social injustice in the South.''"
Earlier Bland's sister sought to discount the revelation of videos posted to social media in which Bland talks about depression and suffering from the effects of PTSD. Some believe the recordings are proof Bland may have been suicidal.
"If you listen to the totality of the tape she really goes a further step to say that even though she was feeling down and struggling with these things that she was anchored in God," says Bland's sister Sharon Cooper. "It more so transitioned to inspirational."
Bland's funeral is scheduled to be held Saturday in Chicago.
Group accuses Waller Co. officials of using selective enforcement in Bland case
The Greater Coalition of Justice held a news conference Tuesday to address what they called "selective enforcement" by law enforcement in Waller County in light of the arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland inside the Waller County Jail.
GHCJ President Johnny Mata called for the United States Justice Department to conduct their own investigation into the July 10 death of Bland inside her cell.
The Harris County medical examiner has ruled Bland's death a suicide by hanging, but Mata and other civil rights groups have repeatedly expressed skepticism in those findings.
"There is an atmosphere of distrust in the community of Waller County," Mata said.
Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith has repeatedly denied accusations that Bland's death was a homicide, and has refuted claims that her death was racially motivated.
Representatives from the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Texas, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and the Communication Workers of America spoke Tuesday to address their concerns.
Bland was found dead in her jail cell three days after she was arrested during a traffic stop in Waller County.
The Waller County sheriff and district attorney have said that Bland committed suicide by hanging herself with a plastic trash bag from a privacy partition in her cell.
A solidarity rally and march was held Tuesday afternoon by the National Black United Front in front of the federal building in downtown Houston.
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