Sandra Bland Act Would Crackdown on Racial Profiling

Our daily roundup of Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 3, 2017 10:38 am

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

State Rep. Garnet Coleman – a Houston Democrat – has introduced the “Sandra Bland Act.” The bill would mandate sweeping criminal justice reforms – including a crackdown on racial profiling. But as Houston Public Media’s Andrew Schneider reports, the bill faces an uphill battle in the Texas legislature:

Among other measures, the bill would ban so-called “pretext stops.” That’s the practice of a police officer stopping a car for an alleged traffic violation, in order to investigate another suspected, unrelated crime.

“Now that happened to me when I was growing up,” said Coleman, who introduced the bill on the steps of the Texas Supreme Court. “It’s not supposed to happen to my children. This is 30 years later. So that’s the reason why I think this is important, and that’s the reason the people standing here with me think this is important, because this led to a death that didn’t have to occur.”

In 2015, Sandra Bland, an African-American woman, was stopped in Prairie View by a white state trooper over a failure signal a lane change. The trooper arrested Bland. Three days later, she was found dead in her jail cell. The death, which Waller County authorities ruled a suicide, became a flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Sandra Bland Act faces a difficult road in the Republican-led state legislature. The Texas Municipal Police Association has already criticized the bill as misguided. The bill’s high number makes it unlikely the measure will make it through both houses before the end of the session in May.

A 26-year-old Salvadoran woman with a brain tumor is now free on bond from a North Texas immigration Detention Center. Gus Contreras with KERA North Texas has more:

Sara Beltran Hernandez was released from the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado – and will now be able to seek medical care. Dallas Immigration Judge James Nugent approved Beltran Hernandez’s $15,000 bond. Beltran Hernandez was hospitalized for nearly two weeks after collapsing last month at the detention center. She had been released from a hospital and then returned to the center in Alvarado. A doctor recommends Beltran Hernandez getting brain scans every six weeks. The tumor is not cancerous. The mother of two has been seeking asylum in the United States for more than a year. She says she can’t return to El Salvador because of domestic violence and gang violence.” 

We’re only a couple of days into March now, but if you had a sneaking suspicion that February felt warmer than usual – you were right. This past February was actually the warmest on record for Texas.

The Texas Observer reports 42 weather stations across the state broke all-time temperature records last month. The average temperature in Texas was 57.3 degrees – that’s 8 degrees higher than the historical average.