Why ‘I will light you up’ was a KKK threat to Sandra Bland

When Officer Brian Encinia threatened now dead Black activist Sandra Bland with “I will light you up” over a cigarette and improper lane change, he was echoing a part of America’s racist KKK past. When a KKK member threatens to “light you up” they mean it literally.

Here are five historical photos of what “I will light you up” means to Black Americans.

Mo Barnes
Mo Barnes

Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician. He has been writing for Rolling Out since 2014. Whether it means walking through a bloody police shooting to help a family find justice or showing the multifaceted talent of the Black Diaspora I write the news.



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Join Our Newsletter

Get the latest news from Rolling Out.