SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton is using her platform to call for more justice and accountability. In light of recent events surrounding police brutality and inequity,
Through a virtual town hall, she called on other state leaders and the family of an Illinois woman who made national headlines after her death in a jail cell.
“She was so much more than a hashtag. To the community at large, Sandra Bland was a daughter, a sister an aunt, a neighbor, a soror and a friend. She was us, Sandra bland was us,” Stratton said.
Next month will mark five years since Sandra Bland of Naperville was found hanging in a jail cell just days after being detained for a traffic violation in Texas. Her family has always disputed the ruling that the Prairie View A&M graduate committed suicide. Now, they use their experience to advocate for other families they see experiencing racial injustice.
“Within days of losing Sandy we had a family huddle where we said to one another, we have to continuously speak out about who sandy was to us and not who the public or law enforcement will paint her our to be to shield themselves from their inability to do their jobs,’ said Sharon Cooper, Bland’s sister.
Bland’s sisters said in order for the nation to achieve real change, there needs to be legislative reform; something other women in leadership say they’re working to achieve right now.
“I have a bill that deals with gun violence prevention. Yes, it’s passing the necessary legislation but the second part is improving police-community relations. We have got to do that,” said Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
“Licensing police officers. Like the person who does your hair, my hair, nails they are all licensed but police officers are not licensed. So we are looking at that,” said Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, Deputy Majority Leader.
Stratton is the leader of the state’s council on women and girls.
Leaders also say they are looking to close the school-to-prison pipeline so more black girls have an opportunity to receive higher education.
Sandra bland’s family is also simply asking the public to say their sister’s name.
Stratton and the family also note the death of Breonna Taylor who police shot in her own home.
That was months before George Floyd was killed.
Taylor only gained significant attention after the nation learned of Floyd’s death.