Bernie Sanders Met With Sandra Bland's Mother and Made This Promise

October 15th 2015

Kyle Jaeger

Five days before the first Democratic debate, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) ran into the mother of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old woman who was found dead in a Texas jail cell after being arrested during a traffic stop. They were both eating at a Thai restaurant in Washington, D.C., and a friend of Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland's mother, walked up to Sanders and asked if he'd be interested in meeting her.

"Yes, please," Sanders told Hannah Adair Bonner, curator of the Shout. She went back to their table, told Reed-Veal what happened, and they both walked back to where the senator was seated.

"What happened to your daughter is inexcusable," Sanders reportedly said. "We are broken, and this has exposed us."

Sandra Bland

Bland was pulled over by a Texas state trooper on July 10 and found dead in a Waller County jail cell three days later. Her death prompted state and federal investigations, and it garnered national attention as details of her arrest were made public. Though her death was ruled a suicide by a Harris County medical examiner, the suspicious circumstances surrounding the case have led many to believe that the truth is not yet known.

Bonner wrote that Sanders promised Bland's mother that he would continue to say her daughter's name and push for criminal justice reform. Five days later, at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Sanders did talk about Sandra Bland after responding to a question about the Black Lives Matter movement.

The candidates were asked about the #BlackLivesMatter movement...

The candidates were asked about the #BlackLivesMatter movement at the #DemDebate.

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"Black Lives Matter," Sanders stated. "And the reason—the reason those words matter is the African American community knows that on any given day some innocent person like Sandra Bland can get into a car, and then three days later she's going to end up dead in jail, or their kids are going to get shot."

"We need to combat institutional racism from top to bottom, and we need major, major reforms in a broken criminal justice system inn which we have more people in jail than China. And, I intended to tackle that issue. To make sure that our people have education and jobs rather than jail cells."

Bonner said that she and Reed-Veal were moved by the experience and appreciated that Sanders took the time to meet with them and discuss Sandra Bland.

"The spontaneity of the moment lent sincerity to words unrehearsed, phrases unplanned, in an interaction that was never supposed to take place," Bonner wrote. "He did not use the moment as an opportunity to promote his campaign. He took no record, he made no statement. He did not try to turn it into a publicity stunt. He simply made space for a sacred moment, and then let it pass without trying to gain anything from it."

Back in July, Sanders was the first presidential candidate to speak out about Sandra Bland and call for police reform in light of the troubling case of her death. In a statement released on July 21, the senator wrote that the "video of the arrest of Sandra Bland shows totally outrageous police behavior."

"No one should be yanked from her car, thrown to the ground, assaulted and arrested for a minor traffic stop. The result is that three days later she is dead in her jail cell. This video highlights once again why we need real police reform. People should not die for a minor traffic infraction. This type of police abuse has become an all-too-common occurrence for people of color and it must stop."

A representative of Sanders campaign confirmed with ATTN: that the senator met with Bland's mother.