With the ongoing controversy surrounding Sandra Bland's arrest and mysterious death in a Texas jail cell, some critics of law enforcement have claimed that the traffic stop that led to the 28-year-old black woman's death was premised on racial bias.
Grey's Anatomy star Jesse Williams gave some of his thoughts in a series of tweets, outlining some of the racial disparities he sees in the criminal justice system:
Whether you agree with him or not, the actor's thoughts reflect a growing distrust — particularly among African Americans — toward the criminal justice system. Since the deaths of black men like Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Eric Garner in New York City, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, racial disparities in police use of force and the criminal justice system in general have received heightened attention. And in some cases — such as the police shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina — the initial police account greatly conflicted with what video footage later proved happened, fostering even more distrust in the police.
These concerns aren't necessarily new in black communities, which have complained about mistreatment by police for decades. But over the past year, stories such as Gray's, Garner's, Brown's, Scott's, and now Bland's have elevated these issues to the forefront of national conversation.