Sandra Bland's funeral held near Chicago

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Saturday, July 25, 2015
Sandra Bland funeral held in Lisle
Family, friends and members of the community have gathered at DuPage AME Church in Lisle to lay Sandra Bland to rest.

LISLE, Ill. -- The funeral for Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old Chicago-area woman who died in a Texas jail cell almost two weeks ago, is being held in Lisle Saturday morning. Friends and family gathered for a wake at 9 a.m., which was followed by a funeral at 11 a.m.

The services, held at DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church, are private and cameras will not be allowed. Church officials say they expect about 1,000 people to attend.

PHOTOS: Mourners remember Sandra Bland

The casket arrived at the church shortly before 9 a.m. Friends, family and members of the community looking to show their support for Bland's family began arriving at the church around 8:30 a.m.

"As an African American woman, just to show my solidarity to her family and in support of the African American community and the struggles that we have," says Evelyn Ebert, who did not know Bland personally. "I've been through that myself, so I have empathy with her. And she had a very promising life ahead of her and it's very unfortunate."

Bland was remembered as a "courageous voice" on social justice, and DuPage AME Reverand Theresa Dear told reporters outside the church that she should be celebrated for standing up for herself.

Initial autopsy results for Bland say she committed suicide, but her family is still raising questions about her death and her arrest.

Friends and family who will gather this morning to pay their respects to Bland still have so many questions about what began as a traffic stop in Texas. Bland was in the state for a new job at her alma mater when she was pulled over for failure to signal a lane change. The traffic stop escalated into a heated exchange and arrest, after which Bland spent three days in jail. The Waller County Medical Examiner says she committed suicide.

Texas authorities released autopsy results that reveal injuries consistent with the medical examiner's ruling, and in the days following her death videos posted to Bland's social media revealed she had battled self-described depression. In jail intake forms, Bland admitted she had attempted suicide before.

Bland's family has ordered an independent autopsy, saying they want all the details in this case before they accept how Bland died.

Two other inmates who were in Waller County Jail at the same time as Bland have come forward saying that while Bland's death is a tragedy, they don't believe foul play was involved. One of the inmates say Bland cried often while she was in jail, but say she was eager to get out of jail once bail was posted.

"She was crying and crying, and I tried to talk to her more, but they keep the chutes closed," said one of Bland's fellow inmates. "I mean, human interaction was seriously a matter of death this time, it really was."

They say attention should instead be focused on the traffic stop that landed Bland in jail in the first place.