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The Brief: July 20, 2015

The family of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old who died in a Waller County Jail cell last week, has asked for an independent autopsy after disputing officials' statements that she committed suicide.

Lanitra Dean, center, and others who once were in the Prairie View A&M marching band with Sandra Bland sing at a vigil in her memory.

The Big Conversation

The family of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old who died in a Waller County Jail cell last week, has asked for an independent autopsy after disputing officials' statements that she committed suicide.

Bland, who was found hanged in her cell, was in jail on a charge of assaulting an officer during a traffic stop — a stop that the Texas Department of Public Safety said Friday had "violations" of traffic stop procedures. Her family has now asked for an independent autopsy and should get the results in the next few days, the family's attorney told ABC News.

DPS and the FBI are investigating Bland's death. Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis said at a news conference Friday that her death "will not be swept under the rug."

The Prairie View A&M graduate from Illinois was back in Texas to start a job at her alma mater. And in both states, Bland's family members, friends and community members honored her life but "continued to raise questions Sunday about her startling death," as the Tribune's Sophia Bollag and Ally Mutnick report:

With clasped hands and bowed heads, hundreds of congregants of the DuPage African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Lisle filed slowly out of the sanctuary and held a prayer walk around the church grounds, wearing white ribbons to honor Bland, who had worshipped there with her family for 18 years.

More than 1,100 miles away, in Prairie View, 100 or so gathered for a similar service at the Hope AME Church, including two of Bland's other sisters and several Texas elected officials.

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: Don't Overlook Abbott's Fundraising Feat, by Ross Ramsey — Before you move on to other news, stop for a moment and consider the mind-boggling campaign finance report turned in this week by Gov. Greg Abbott. For nine days in June, he raised money faster than most presidential candidates.

In Dallas, Sanders' Tough Talk Fires Up Thousands, by Patrick Svitek — Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent running for president as a Democrat, rallied thousands of Texans on Sunday in Dallas with a progressive clarion call that included some tough talk for Democrats who may be looking past the state.

Abbott Lets National Guard Carry Arms on Base, by Sophia Bollag — Gov. Greg Abbott on Saturday authorized the Texas National Guard to be armed on base following the shooting at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Perry Calls for Trump to Leave Presidential Race, by Patrick Svitek — Former Gov. Rick Perry said Saturday that Donald Trump should withdraw from the GOP presidential race immediately after suggesting Sen. John McCain was not a war hero "because he was captured."

Private Equity Firms Fishing in Texas Medical Waters, by Edgar Walters — Doctors with independent primary care practices in Texas are increasingly being courted by private equity firms looking for investments, and offering leverage in the consolidating health care industry. Some doctors fear losing their independence, but others say it's a market trend that cannot be ignored.

Locals Hold Vigil, Grapple With Sandra Bland’s Death, by Sophia Bollag — While social media has been flooded with questions from across the country about Sandra Bland's death, students and residents in Waller County are turning out in person to protest, raise questions and honor her memory. 

In Houston, Paul Calls for "Hardball" Against Clinton, by Patrick Svitek — White House hopeful Rand Paul on Friday urged fellow Republicans to play "hardball" against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton.

Barton is First Texas Congressman to Endorse Perry, by Abby Livingston — U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, the dean of the Texas congressional contingent, has become the first in the delegation to endorse former Gov. Rick Perry's presidential bid.

Emails Show Ag Commissioner Focused on Image, by Liz Crampton and Neena Satija — Emails and correspondence from Sid Miller's first six months as Texas agriculture commissioner show a leader involved in the daily dealings of his department, conscious of his portrayal in the press and eager to burnish his image.


Ted Cruz Looks for His Iowa Moment, Bloomberg

Cruz declines to denounce Trump's McCain comments, CNN

5,200 turn out to Bernie Sanders rally at University of Houston, Houston Chronicle

Bernie Sanders voices concerns about police brutality in Dallas campaign stop, Dallas Morning News

Rand Paul predicts his fiscal conservatism will win over Texans, San Antonio Express-News

Fikac: Abbott’s response to Trump is muted, San Antonio Express-News

Immigrants sue Texas over state's denial of birth certificates for U.S.-born children, Los Angeles Times

Charter school leasing $23 million building for $1 a month, San Antonio Express-News

The other Texas the boom forgot: Rural counties struggle to stay afloat, Dallas Morning News

Child protection law generates support, frustration, Austin American-Statesman

Ex-President George H.W. Bush leaves hospital after fall, The Associated Press

A&M won’t discuss animal lab tests, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"We're seeing the real Donald Trump now."

— Former Gov. Rick Perry criticizing Trump on NBC's Meet the Press for saying Arizona Sen. John McCain isn't a war hero. Perry said Saturday that Trump should withdraw from the 2016 presidential race.

Today in TribTalk

The conservative case for more rail transit in Texas, by William S. Lind and Glen D. Bottoms — Public transportation, especially rail, is often seen as anathema to conservatives. In fact, high-quality transit benefits everyone, including conservatives, and it's time for Texas to get on board.

News From Home

•    The latest updates to the Tribune's Government Salaries Explorer are the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and UT Health Northeast — previously the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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