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Photos: Massive Loop Vigil Marks 1 Year Since Sandra Bland's Death

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 14, 2016 3:38PM

Hundreds of people gathered in the Loop Wednesday night for a memorial for Sandra Bland, the 28 year-old African American woman from Naperville who died in police custody in Texas one year ago after being arrested during a routine traffic stop.

“To be here with folks who really just knew Sandy (from her death) a year ago, with so many people … it’s amazing,” Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, told the Tribune.

“You could’ve been anywhere but you chose to be here with us,” Shante Needham, Bland’s sister, told the crowd. “We are so grateful.”

The group, which included about a dozen relatives of Bland, sang songs, performed poetry and gave speeches to commemorate her and lift up the names of the hundreds of people of color killed by police.

The anniversary of Bland’s death comes as tensions are extremely high in the wake of two more recent deaths of people of color—Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—at the hands of police. In both cases, graphic and disturbing video of the killings was posted to social media. Protests demanding police accountability have rocked the country, and demonstrations have occurred almost daily in Chicago.

“Sandy still speaks, just like Rekia still smiles,” said Martinez Sutton as he closed out a spoken word piece he performed. Sutton is the brother of Rekia Boyd, who was killed by Chicago Police officer Dante Servin after he fired an unregistered weapon over his shoulder into a crowd of people in Douglas Park. Vigil attendees held up large LED lights spelling out “Sandra Speaks.”

“I know for sure my sister’s smiling right now,” said Shavon Bland, another one of Sandra's sisters. “She’s not in the ground. She’s with us every step of the way.”