DeRay McKesson, one of the leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement who is being wooed by the Hillary Clinton campaign, has wildly speculated that Sandra Bland was murdered even though all evidence suggests she committed suicide.
It’s not a surprise the 30-year-old McKesson is spreading falsehoods and innuendo in the aftermath of Bland’s tragic July 13 death. He did the same following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last August and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in April. He has also floated conspiracy theories following the shootings of VonDerrit Myers last October and Tony Robinson Jr. in March.
But none of that appears to have hurt McKesson’s standing as the new face of the modern civil rights movement. He has 186,000 Twitter followers and is often a guest on national cable TV. The Clinton campaign is even seeking him out. The activist was invited to a speech Clinton gave last month in New York City. McKesson attended but tweeted that he was not impressed.
Theories about Sandra Bland:
Most are in agreement that the 28-year-old Bland was unfairly arrested after being pulled over for a minor traffic infraction July 10 by Brian Encinia, a 30-year-old Texas Department of Public Safety trooper. Dash cam video shows Encinia dealing aggressively with Bland and escalating the situation. An altercation ensues in which Encinia pulls Bland out of her vehicle and then threatens her, saying “I will light you up.” When Bland says that she has epilepsy and can’t breathe, Encinia says, “good.”
Bland was booked into the Waller County jail shortly after. She was found dead, alone in her cell, on the morning of July 13.
A Harris County medical examiner determined Bland hanged herself by using a plastic bag. Jail house video shows nobody entering Bland’s cell before her death. Two of Bland’s co-inmates have come forward to say that Bland was distraught after her arrest and they believe she likely killed herself. In addition, an inmate evaluation form seemingly filled out on Bland after her arrest states she was depressed and she had attempted to commit suicide within the past year. She told a jail employee she tried kill herself by taking pills after she had a miscarriage.
But conspiracy theorists, largely operating on social media, have dismissed all of that, instead saying Bland was killed.
And none is more influential than McKesson, who left his job in the Minneapolis, Minn. school district in August to become a full-time activist.
McKesson blatantly states Bland was murdered while in the Waller County jail.
McKesson’s modus operandi is to throw out small tidbits of information which may or may not be true and then spin it to fit the cover-up narrative. He’s fond of raising questions to plant seeds of doubt but less interested in providing corrective information when it emerges.
For instance, though McKesson has no background in forensics, he asserts that when Bland hanged herself, saliva would have fallen out of her mouth and onto her shirt. Was saliva found on Bland’s shirt? McKesson wonders.
By now, McKesson has had a lot of practice distorting facts and throwing out false leads.
He is one of the activists responsible for spreading the “Hands up, don’t shoot” meme which spread like wildfire after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last August. Within hours of Brown’s death, activists were claiming the 18-year-old had his hands up in the air and was surrendering when Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot him multiple times. However, some of the witnesses who initially made that claim to the media, including a close friend of Brown’s, gave different accounts to law enforcement. Other witnesses to the shooting disputed the claim that Brown had his hands up at all. Most witnesses to the shooting heard nothing that sounded like Brown surrendering.
McKesson also spread misinformation following the April 19 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore. Gray died a week after being arrested following a foot chase with police. But though an autopsy later found that Gray died as a result of a head injury he sustained while riding alone in the back of a police van, McKesson used his widely-followed Twitter account to tell the public that Gray was beaten by Baltimore cops during his arrest.
The state’s attorney prosecuting the six officers in the case has not suggested in any way that the officers beat Gray. There is no evidence from his autopsy that he was beaten during his arrest. The theory behind the state’s case is that the officers did not do enough to ensure that Gray was secure and that he was not given proper medical attention.
McKesson also floated another myth that Gray’s spine was nearly completely severed from his injuries. That dramatic claim has never been substantiated.
McKesson also stoked the flames of a police shooting that occurred in St. Louis last October. An off-duty officer who was working security shot 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers. McKesson characterized Myers’ death as an “execution,” ignoring evidence indicating Myers fired a gun three times at the off-duty officer. McKesson and other activists denied Myers had a gun and said he was actually carrying a sandwich. However, an autopsy found gunshot residue on Myers’ hands and clothes. The officer involved in the shooting was cleared in the case.
McKesson also traveled to Madison, Wisc. to protest the March 6 shooting of Anthony Robinson Jr. by a city police officer. McKesson and other Black Lives Matter protesters asserted Robinson was unarmed and he was the target of character assassination by the media. But text messages and 911 calls from Robinson’s friends showed them saying he was “tweaking out” and acting psychotically. Robinson was darting into traffic and intimidating bystanders. When the Madison police officer arrived, he said Robinson punched him repeatedly inside of the house. The officer said he was forced to shoot, and the local district attorney agreed.
McKesson has also followed the case of Kendrick Johnson, a 17-year-old high school student from Lowndes, Ga. who was found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat in the school’s gymnasium on Jan. 11, 2013.
Though Johnson’s death was ruled an accident by both a local and a state medical examiner — it is believed he went head first into the mat to retrieve something and got stuck — McKesson et al. are not buying the official narrative.
In October 2013, Johnson’s family hired Benjamin Crump, the civil rights attorney who worked for the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. McKesson appears to have adopted Crump’s view of the Johnson case, asserting, despite all evidence to the contrary, that two white brothers who attended Lowndes — Brian and Branden Bell — are responsible for the death. Branden Bell was on a bus for a school trip during the period Johnson was believed to have died. Brian Bell was in class across campus from the gym.
The case is in front of a federal grand jury and is being prosecuting by U.S. Attorney Michael Moore. The Bells and their attorneys have accused Moore of conducting the investigation for political reasons. Earlier this week, federal agents stormed the homes of several members of the Bell family and took cell phones, laptops and other devices.
Despite what McKesson sends out to his 186,000 Twitter followers, local black leaders who were initially outraged over Johnson’s death have come to believe that it was a tragic accident. Rev. Floyd Rose, the president of the Valdosta-Lowndes County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, is one of those leaders. That organization’s lead investigator, Leigh Touchton, shares Rose’s belief that Johnson was not murdered.
The Daily Caller is not the only publication to notice McKesson’s history of deception. The website Mediaite also tackled some of the baseless claims McKesson has made in the aftermath of Bland’s death.