On the Issues

Sandra Bland Arrest was ‘Painful and Dreadful,’ Sanders Says

A police dashboard-camera video of the Texas traffic-stop arrest of Sandra Bland was “painful and dreadful,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday. Then it got worse. Days after the July 10 arrest, the 28-year-old suburban Chicago woman was found dead in a Waller County jail cell.

“What you saw is an aggressive, overactive police officer who dragged this woman out of her car, assaulted her, sent her to jail for what crime? A minor traffic violation,” Sanders told Ed Schultz on MSNBC. “That happens all over this country, and it especially happens to people of color. Lives are being destroyed, right and left,” he said to Schultz. “And we’ve got to change that.”

Sandra Bland video“Our criminal justice system is out of control,” Sanders added. “The number of African-Americans and Hispanics who are in jails is disproportionately high.”

Schultz asked Sanders for specific proposals.

“We have more people in jail than any other country on earth. Millions of lives have been destroyed because people are in jail for non-violent crimes, so we have to take a look at mandatory minimums and the drug policy and the militarization of police forces all over the country. We have to take a look at use-of-force policy. That is what you saw in that dreadful and painful video of Sandra Bland.

“We need a real hard look at the way police departments function in America,” Sanders added. He said that means an honest examination of how police treat African-Americans. It means enacting reforms “so that young people can walk down the street without having to worry about whether they are going to be harassed or shot in the back.”

“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us,” Sanders said.