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Sandra Bland dies in jail after traffic stop confrontation

July 10, 2020 in History

By History.com Editors

Only July 10, 2015, Texas State Trooper Brian Encinia pulls over a 28-year-old Black woman, Sandra Bland, for failing to signal a lane change. After a heated encounter, he arrests her and takes her to a nearby jail. Three days later, on the morning of July 13, she is found dead in her cell, apparently by suicide. The circumstances surrounding her death lead many to question how Bland could end up losing her life following a minor traffic stop.

Bland’s case drew international outrage over the treatment of Black people by white police officers and became a painful case cited in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Encinia’s dashcam and Bland’s phone both recorded partial videos of the incident. Bland refused Encinia’s orders to put out her cigarette and get out of her car, at which point he brandished his Taser and told her, “I will light you up.” Encinia later claimed that Bland kicked him, prompting him to wrestle her to the ground. The alleged fight was not captured on video—save for Bland describing being knocked to the ground and telling Encinia she has epilepsy. Several days later, an officer sent to deliver Bland her breakfast found her dead, and an autopsy concluded she had hung herself with a plastic bag.

Bland’s family and friends immediately questioned not only her treatment but also the official report of her suicide. Bland was reportedly in good spirits around the time of her arrest, excited by the prospect of a new job she was due to start in a few days. Her death—almost exactly a year after the killing of Eric Garner by the New York Police Department—fit into a pattern of police violence and systemic racism in law enforcement that became increasingly visible to the American public over the course of the 2010s.

The jail where Bland died was found to have been ignoring protocols regarding prisoner observation, and in 2017, Texas passed the Sandra Bland Act, which attempts to educate police officers about mental illness and de-escalation and mandates that jails divert people with mental health or substance abuse issues into treatment.

Bland’s name became known across the country shortly after her death and was chanted at racial justice protests for years.

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Source: HISTORY

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One of the Most Daring WWII Air Raids Targeted Hitler's Critical 'Gas Station'

July 10, 2020 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

U.S. airmen were awarded five Medals of Honor for this risky, low-flying bombing mission.

In the early morning hours of August 1, 1943, a total of 177 B-24 Liberator bombers took off from Allied airfields near Benghazi, Libya, heading northeast over the Mediterranean Sea with more than 1,700 U.S. airmen aboard. Operation Tidal Wave—one of the most daring, and costly, raids of

‘Bloody Sunday’ Deemed Heroic But Unsuccessful

A gasoline refinery and storage facility used by Nazi armed forces in flames after a bombing raid by the U.S. 9th Army Air Force.

Of the original 177 Liberators that departed Benghazi for Operation Tidal Wave, only 92 returned. Germans destroyed 54 of the bombers, while others were able to land in other Allied airfields. More than 300 U.S. airmen were killed in the raid, with more than 100 captured by the Germans and nearly 80 interned in Turkey after their planes were forced to land there.

Despite the bravery on display on “Bloody Sunday,” as historians dubbed it, the Ploesti mission was a strategic failure. “Hitler’s Gas Station,” though damaged, was not destroyed; the oil refineries were back at full production within weeks. “It took many more missions, mostly done at a high altitude, to eventually knock out that oil field,” says Michael Sellers, a filmmaker whose late grandfather, John L. Sullivan, served as a bombardier navigator in the 93rd.

By war’s end, the “Traveling Circus” would fly 396 missions, more than any other bomb group in the Eighth Air Force. Members of the 93rd, along with later generations of their family members, have met for decades in reunions in the United States as well as at Hardwick, the former air base in England where the group made its home during the war. Sellers chronicles the ongoing reunions (the first one of which he attended with his grandfather in 2001) and the 93rd’s wartime service in his documentary Return to Hardwick: Home of the 93rd Bomb Group.

Avendano, Duran’s great-uncle, survived the Ploesti mission, but was killed during a test flight in England in January 1944. “It was not just to remember my uncle, but all the veterans that served in the Army Air Force, and specifically in the 93rd Bomb Group,” Duran says of his work researching Operation Tidal Wave, as well as his visits to Hardwick and other reunion activities. “It was our wish to keep …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter first appears, sparking a movement

July 10, 2020 in History

By History.com Editors

Outraged and saddened after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the Florida man who killed a Black teenager in 2012, Oakland, California resident Alicia Garza posts a message on Facebook on July 13, 2013. Her post contains the phrase “Black lives matter,” which soon becomes a rallying cry and a movement throughout the United States and around the world.

Garza said she felt “a deep sense of grief” after Zimmerman was acquitted. She was further saddened to note that many people appeared to blame the victim, Trayvon Martin, and not the “disease” of racism. Patrice Cullors, a Los Angeles community organizer and friend of Garza, read her post and replied with the first instance of #BlackLivesMatter.

As the hashtag became popular on Facebook and Twitter, Garza, Cullors and fellow activist Opal Tometi built a network of community organizers and racial justice activists using the name Black Lives Matter. The phrase and the hashtag were then quickly adopted by grassroots activists and protests all across the country, particularly after the subsequent killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and a number of other African Americans at the hands of police officers or would-be vigilantes like Zimmerman.

Simple and clear in its demand for Black dignity, the phrase became one of the major symbols of the protests that erupted after Brown’s killing in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. While polling showed that a majority of Americans disapproved of the Black Lives Matter movement when it first began, in the years following, support for its central arguments grew.

After the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis unleashed a nationwide protest movement against police brutality and racism, support for the Black Lives Matter movement increased by a 28-point margin in two weeks—almost as much as it had in the preceding two years, according to the New York Times.

Perhaps more than any other phrase since “Black Power,” “Black Lives Matter” became a singular rallying cry for the American and global racial justice movements.

READ MORE: Black History Milestones: Timeline

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Source: HISTORY