Sandra Bland's funeral held in Lisle

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Sunday, July 26, 2015
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LISLE, Ill. (WLS) -- Family and friends of a suburban woman found dead in a Texas jail cell said their goodbyes at her funeral Saturday morning in west suburban Lisle.

Hundreds attended the funeral of Sandra Bland at the DuPage African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bland was remembered as a courageous fighter for social justice as family and friends continue to question her death.

PHOTOS: Mourners remember Sandra Bland

There was a mixture of sadness and anger as a family, friends and an outraged community said a tearful goodbye to Bland.

"I hope something is done and something will be done and it's not just swept under the rug like another Trevon Martin and all those other situations," said Takiiash Harrison.

The grief-stricken waited for hours in the summer heat outside for the wake and funeral of the 28-year old African American woman to begin.

The former Naperville native was found dead in a Texas jail just days after she was arrested following a minor traffic offense.

"We're going to continue to ask for a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the death of Sandra Bland," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, National Action Network.

Remembered by those at her church home as outspoken, smart and an active member, during the service, mourners inside the full chapel, along with an overflow crowd outside, were asked to celebrate her life even as many questioned the circumstances of her death.

"We celebrate that Sandy Bland was a young lady who refuse to be subdued and silenced," said Rev. Theresa Dear, DuPage AME Church associate minister.

The Saturday service came a day after an autopsy report released found that Bland used a plastic bag to hang herself after her controversial July 10 traffic stop, which was captured by squad car dashcam and shows a Texas trooper pulling Bland over for failing to signal a lane change.

Bland was arrested for assaulting him.

"I commend her mother for saying, 'I'd be the first one to tell you if she took her own life,'" said friend and community activist Mary Fultz.

Supporters don't believe the findings, saying she was about to start a new job at her alma mater, Prairie Valley A&M University, and that it is unlikely she would have taken her own life.

Many of those in attendance wore either all white or donned t-shirts that read, "sandyspeaks."

United States Senator Dick Durbin, along with Congressman Bill Foster attended Bland's service. Both elected officials called Bland's traffic stop highly questionable and said they would signed a letter asking the U.S. Attorney to launch its own investigation.