An odd altercation Monday between Waller County Sheriff Glenn Smith and a clergywoman ended with Smith telling the woman to "go back to the church of Satan that you run."
United Methodist pastor Hannah Bonner was the apparent subject of Smith's derision, and she caught the elected official's comments on camera:
The video was taken in the parking lot in front of the Waller County Sheriff's Office and the Waller County Jail, where Sandra Bland was found dead in her cell about a month ago. Bland's death sparked international outrage, protests and investigations by multiple law enforcement agencies.
In a phone interview, Bonner said she has been peacefully protesting in front of the jail for the past 27 days. She said Smith often passed by her as he walked in and out of the office, and the two typically exchanged polite pleasantries — Bonner would say good morning, and Smith would sometimes casually invite the protesters inside to enjoy the air conditioning. But this time was different.
On Sunday, a group of protesters walked inside the open lobby of the Sheriff's office chanting "Sandy still speaks." Officers gathered in the crowded lobby and began to guide the protesters back onto the sidewalk outside. The scene intensified, and there was some pushing and shoving as the protesters were moved en masse through the small doorway.
The next day, Bonner said, Smith came out of the building and looked angry. Bonner said he took a photo of her face and her car's license plate, and told her he was "going to do something" with it. As Smith walked back inside, he made the Satan comment on video to Bonner.
"It was a childish, mean thing to say," Bonner said. "I am a fully credentialed member of the clergy. He's just bullying me." Bonner said she is a graduate of the Divinity School at Duke University, one of the top-ranked programs in the country.
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This type of behavior isn't new for Smith. Many national news outlets have recently re-reported Smith's suspension and eventual firing from his former post as chief of police in Hempstead in 2007 following allegations of police brutality and racism.
Waller County Sheriff's Office spokesman Brian Cantrell said he would pass along our message asking Smith for comment, but we have not yet heard anything from Smith. We'll update this story if that changes.
Update 8/11/15 at 3:30 p.m.: A second video Bonner posted to her Facebook page shows Sheriff Smith attempting to explain why he took photos of protesters' faces and license plates outside the Waller County jail. Smith said he was "just gathering intelligence." A few minutes later, he pointed to Bonner behind the camera and again referred to her as "the church of Satan lady":
Sheriff R. Glenn Smith told me to go back to the Church of Satan again, admitted to taking pictures of our plates and faces, and said that by tomorrow things will be different - they are going to build a barricade. He singled me out as the person who provoked but would not respond to how I did so, just said that was his assumption. He has made it clear he plans to target me. #whathappenedtosandrabland #sandySTILLspeaks #sayhername #sandyspeaks #justiceforsandy #blacklivesmatterPosted by Hannah Adair Bonner on Monday, August 10, 2015