A pastor keeping vigil outside the Texas jail where Sandra Bland died says the sheriff there has begun to intimidate her a day after a controversial demonstration took place at the jail.
Rev. Hannah Adair Bonner on Monday tweeted a video of Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith testily asking her, "Why don't you go back to the church of Satan?" as he walked through the jail parking lot and entered his department's building in Hempstead. She said it's characteristic of Smith's new bullying manner.
Bonner told HuffPost that she's been outside the Waller County jail for 27 days since Bland's death on July 13, and that the sheriff had acted cordially until today. Smith had invited Bonner and other demonstrators to use the public restroom or cool off in the air-conditioned lobby of the sheriff department's building, but his attitude soured after a rally Sunday, she said.
Officers on Sunday forced out several dozen people who were occupying the lobby around 7 p.m. while peacefully chanting "Sandy still speaks," according to Bonner. Four deputies suffered minor injuries dealing with a large, unruly crowd, according to Smith's comments to KPRC-TV.
Bland's death was ruled a suicide, but her family has cast doubt on the official findings. Video of her encounter with the white police officer who arrested her raised new questions about police brutality, particularly against African Americans, and led to a re-examination of Waller County's troubled racial history. Smith was fired from his post as Hempstead police chief in 2007 for racial discrimination.
On Monday, with only six protesters on hand, Smith took a picture of Bonner's face as well as her license plate, she said. She alleged that during one of his walks through the parking lot, he told her, "Now things are going to be different."
"His behavior and his intimidation is completely inappropriate," Bonner said. "I've never been disrespectful to him. He had no reason to talk to me like that."
The sheriff's actions could stoke animosity against Bonner and other protesters in the small city northwest of Houston, she said. Bonner said she's been one of the few white people outside the jail and the only person who's been there every day.
"He’s putting my safety at risk and he’s doing it intentionally," Bonner said. "He’s trying to single me out."
Multiple calls from HuffPost to the sheriff's office were unanswered.
(h/t: Raw Story)