Gloria Browne Marshall, Associate Professor at John Jay Criminal College, as heard on this morning’s On Point: “As a constitutional law professor at John Jay College, I talk to my students all the time about knowing their rights, but I also want them to come back from a police interaction alive…” So, no, there is no legal basis for asking Sandra Bland to put out her cigarette, (and, by the way, Browne Marshall didn’t think he’d ask a white man to do so) but, “We have a power dynamic here where he believes he has the right to do that.”
The professor also stated that in the absence of obvious drugs or weapons or violent behavior, the cop did not have the legal right to demand that she get out of the car, though elsewhere today I heard that a police office can both legally demand that someone stay in their car and legally demand that they get out of their car.
Professor Browne addressed power imbalances, intimidation (the taser pointed at eye level), and racial profiling — not at all like the lame talking head on CBS news tonight.
Whether the 52 minutes has been edited is still a matter of controversy, but Ava DuVernay, the director of Selma (who knows a thing or two about editing film), thinks it obvious that it was. Of this possibility, Professor Browne Marshall said: “if this is what we’re allowed to see… it makes me wonder what they were doing to her in that jail cell.”
Here are a couple of my more random thoughts about the video:
- How ironic that the policeman demands she put her phone down. WHO was she gonna call? WHO was there that could have come to her rescue? Was he worried about being filmed?
- Did he intentionally move her off camera to cuff her?
- What did that black female officer think as she was searching Sandra Bland’s car? After Bland’s death, did she look back over the events of that morning and wish she had inserted herself somehow?
- How VERY weird to listen to the policeman calmly flip through a book (of police terms and protocol?) and talk to the dispatcher about whether he ought to write up Sandra Bland for assault (“I mean, I’m okay, but she did kick me…”) or resisting arrest. It was sick weird.
- So many people I know and respect and who lead pretty normal lives ‘have a history of depression’ — just saying.