Typically, Black women’s deaths don’t garner much media attention, but this week the deaths of Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman became national news.

According to law enforcement officials, both Bland, 28, and Chapman, 18, took their own lives while in jail for relatively minor offenses. However, given the wave of extrajudicial killings by police of unarmed Black people, the news of their deaths caused many to be skeptical.

So what do we know so far?

Sandra Bland

10612756_10100464490544754_6513511276026202680_nSandra Bland was a 28-year-old graduate of Prairie View A&M University. According to her family, she was relocating from the Chicago area back to Texas to begin a new job at her alma mater.

On Friday, July 10, Bland was pulled over in Prairie View, Texas for allegedly failing to use her signal during a lane change. Police allege Bland became combative and assaulted a police officer during the traffic stop, but a video of her arrests contradicts their story. Bland was arrested for “assaulting a public servant” and taken to the Waller County jail, where she contacted a bail bondsman to try to arrange bond.

After her arrest, Bland called her sister, Shante Needham, and told her the arresting officer put his knees in her back. She also said she believed her arm was broken. On Friday, Bland told LaVaughn Mosely, a close friend, she was smoking a cigarette when the officer confronted her and he “told her to put her cigarette out. She had an exchange of words, and it just went downhill. She said he snatched her out of the window and slammed her on her face.” Friday, the officer who arrested Bland was put on desk duty for violating procedures.

On Monday, July 13, jail authorities say they spoke with Bland twice, once at 7 a.m. to bring her breakfast, and again at 8 a.m. via an intercom. However, when a female jailer went to check on her at 9 a.m. they found her unresponsive. Sheriff Glenn Smith said jail officials started CPR and called EMTs, but it was too late. Bland did not have any shoelaces or bed sheets in her cell, but Elton Mathis, Waller County district attorney, said she used a trash bag to hang herself from a partition in the ceiling.

Bland’s family insists she wouldn’t commit suicide, and have asked for a full investigation into her death.

D.A. Mathis admits it’s “strange” a woman who “had everything going for herself” would take her own life, but Waller County officials insist her death was self-inflicted.

Texas State Senator Royce West has asked the Texas Department of Safety to release any video of the arrest and incarceration of Bland, and the FBI has joined the Texas Rangers in the investigation.

Kindra Chapman

ckdydifweaqiucf.jpg.CROP.rtstoryvar-mediumKindra Chapman was an 18-year-old Alabama resident who died in the Homewood City jail on Tuesday, July 14. According to Homewood police, Chapman was arrested for first-degree robbery after she allegedly stole someone’s cell phone.

Chapman was booked into jail at 6:22 p.m. on Tuesday, and a little over an hour later she was found unresponsive in her cell.

Homewood City jail officials say they conducted a wellness check on Chapman at 7:50 p.m., but she was unconscious. She was taken to Brookwood Medical Center, but was pronounced dead. Officials claim Chapman used a bed sheet to hang herself, but the Huffington Post reports the results of Chapman’s autopsy are still pending.

Homewood police, the same agency that arrested Chapman, is conducting the investigation into her death.

Though law enforcement officers in both municipalities claim the women died of self-inflicted asphyxiation, America’s history of police abuse has caused many to question the official account presented to the media.

Regardless of what actually happened, it’s clear the reaction to Bland and Chapman’s deaths once again illustrates the lack of trust between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve.

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  • Seriously Natural

    Where is our justice? Oddly silent around Black women’s death. I barely saw a hashtag for Sandra Bland. I’m so sick of the lack of concern outside of black women FOR black women.

    • [email protected]

      I totally agree with you. The deaths of black women have been readily ignored in society, which is a total disgrace. The stories of Sandra Bland and Kindra Chapman should have our attention. More information is coming out both the events involving the deaths of both women. There should be a change and the families of both women deserve real facts and justice.

    • *NmySkynn70*

      agreed; people should be upset because this was so tragic & so SENSELESS that i can’t wrap my mind around it, we know if Sandra Bland was whyte she wouldn’t even have been brutalized & carted off to jail, it’s just a SHAME!

  • Trueblue

    I want to hear the truth from the police.

    • *NmySkynn70*

      they are gonna try 2 cover their arses by crying “suicide” because they clearly fvcked up . . . . i hope the autopsy reveals what happened, everyone on blogs are saying it could have been her brain swelling after taking that slam against the pavement . . . .

    • Mary Burrell

      Don’t hold your breath

  • Lorna Hawkins


  • lenaz

    These MF’S… this is the 50’s the 60’s extended …we’ll be hanging from the damn trees …if we are not already. The Police need to be prosecuted and serve time for murder so they don’t think/know that their City State nor Federal governments are going to prosecute them. We are under Marshall law in America …do Not be deceived!

  • Delia

    Utterly disgusting. And to pin suicide is beyond insulting to those women and their families. I pray for justice and peace for their souls.