Group In Jacksonville Holds Vigil For Sandra Bland In Hemming Park

Jul 27, 2015

On Sunday night dozens of people gathered in Hemming Park. An African American woman held a sign reading “Say Her Name.” Another woman held a sign saying, “I’m white and I get it.”

They were at a vigil for Sandra Bland, an African American woman arrested in Texas during a routine traffic stop, that quickly escalated.     

A video of the stop went viral, causing many to question the way the officer treated Bland and then why she was found dead in her jail cell.

Chevara Orrin co-organized the vigil. She says Bland’s story has resonated with women of color in Jacksonville.

“So what I hope will come out of this is a change in policy,” Orrin said.

“I hope that people will come together to strategize. I hope that some people walk away feeling a little more empowered and less alone, and I hope that it helps us ultimately build and strengthen our community.”

Orrin says she’s reached out to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in hopes of putting together a community forum to talk about police practices and what went wrong in the Sandra Bland video.

“We have a unique opportunity because we have a new sheriff in town,” she said. “It is a new day and it is a new time.”

Orrin says while some people in the crowd are ready to step up and take action, others probably just want to feel heard.

People in the crowd lit candles and listened to spoken poetry. Dee Walker was watching from the side.

“A year or so ago I never even knew that police brutality was at the extent,” Walker said. “It’s just so prevalent now and common and it shouldn’t be a thing where we’re getting familiar with it.”

Orrin says JSO seems open to starting a discussion.