AUSTIN – Several people gathered at the steps of the state’s Capitol for the launch of the nonprofit the Sandra Bland Center for Racial Justice on Monday morning.
Geneva Reed-Veal, Bland’s mother, said the center was established to bring healing to families that have lost a loved one to police brutality and help them navigate the criminal justice system.
“We’re trying to really assist families with being whole again. So we’re doing scholarships, we’re doing training, we’re teaching financial literacy,” Reed-Veal said.
Sandra Bland was found dead in a Waller County Jail cell three days after her arrest. Her death was ruled a suicide. In 2017, the Sandra Bland Act was enacted to mandates county jails to divert people with mental health and substance abuse issues toward treatment. It also requires that independent law enforcement agencies investigate jail deaths.
Reed-Veal said more needs to be done, and the system remains broken.
“We had George Floyd. We had Breonna Taylor. We had so many after Sandy. This is after the Sandra Bland Act, which they played with. They did not come back in and put the things in it that should be solid. They turned it into a mental health bill. While that helps some people, that’s not what Sandy’s story was about,” Reed-Veal said.
Reed-Veal hopes the new center helps many families who went through similar experiences as her own.
“I just ask that those of you that are here today, who believe in Sandra’s cause, who believe that the Sandra Bland Center for Racial Justice will make a drastic change in this world, come on and join us,” Reed-Veal said.