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By Saeed Shabazz
Staff Writer
Updated Mar 15, 2006, 12:36 pm - The family of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14-year-old who died in early January after entering a Florida boot camp for juveniles, asked that his body be exhumed for a second autopsy, according to various news reports.

The family attorney told the Associated Press (AP) that Dr. Michael Baden, a New York City-based forensic pathologist who reviewed the medical evidence in the slaying of civil rights leader Medgar Evers, would be asked to perform the second autopsy. The AP said that Dr. Baden has not responded to calls for a comment.

A videotape shows young Anderson being beaten, kneed and dragged by guards at the Panama City facility only hours after his arrival, but the chief medical examiner ruled that Martin died from natural causes not related to the beating.

"This child is the modern-day Emmett Till," argues Florida State Senator Frederica Wilson. "You have to see the photos of this child's face to understand what I am saying."

Sen. Wilson said that the Bay County boot camp was closed Feb. 21 after the Florida State Black Legislative Caucus and Florida State office of the NAACP demanded its closing.

"The Black Legislative Caucus has closed down 10 of the 17 boot camps in the state of Florida, and you have to know that the Bay County facility was the worse," Sen. Wilson said.

"There is a serious need for systemic changes, and we won't stop pressing the state to deal with these issues," Florida NAACP state conference chairman Adora Obi Nweze stated, stressing that the madness has to stop.

"These facilities have taken advantage of our young Black men, using chokeholds to make them say, ˜yes sir.' Our children have no voice," she insisted.

Martin was sent to the camp after an arrest in June for allegedly stealing his grandmother's jeep and later violating his probation by trespassing at a school, according to officials. On Feb. 16, the Bay County chief medical examiner ruled that his death was due to a genetic blood disorder caused by a sickle cell trait, which caused him to bleed to death, according to the Miami Herald.

The Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) said they wanted to hear from the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America on the autopsy findings. The family attorney called the medical examiner's report a "case of home cooking" or giving the sheriff's office what they wanted, according to the Miami Herald.

The U.S. Justice Department announced on Feb. 15 that it is investigating possible civil rights violations in the case. The NAACP in Florida told reporters they were requesting a statewide independent prosecutor, and asking the U.S. Attorney's office to probe possible civil rights violations in the case. On Feb. 21, Governor Jeb Bush appointed the special prosecutor.

Activists charge that Martin was the third Black youth to die in a boot camp supervised by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice.

De Lacy Davis, of the Newark-based Black Cops Against Police Brutality, commented on the racial factor in the case.

"I remember the case of Lionel Tate, who had been sentenced to life in prison at the age of 12 for the accidental death of a 6-year-old family friend," Mr. Davis noted. He and other activists won Mr. Tate's freedom from Broward County Jail a day before his 17th birthday.

"I am talking about a mindset in Florida as it relates to Blacks and the criminal justice system there. Around the time of the Lionel Tate case, there were two young White males who beat their father to death with a baseball bat"”and they meant to kill him"”they were sentenced to seven years," the anti-police brutality activist noted.

According to Ms. Nweze, the NAACP plans on holding a townhall meeting in Panama City to discuss the issue of boot camps. "There is a real sense of urgency on our part to get to the bottom of this," she explained.

Sen. Wilson stressed, "We must find an alternative to these boot camps."

© Copyright 2006 FCN Publishing,

TAMPA, Fla. -- A pathologist who observed the second autopsy of a 14-year-old boy who was punched and kicked by guards at a juvenile boot camp said Tuesday the boy may not have died of a blood disorder as a medical examiner had ruled.

Dr. Michael Baden, who observed the new autopsy on behalf of the teen's family, said it was clear Martin Lee Anderson did not die from sickle cell trait, or from any other natural causes.

Anderson was sent to the Bay County Sheriff's Office boot camp on Jan. 5 for a probation violation. A surveillance video showed guards kicking and punching him after he collapsed while exercising on his first day at the camp, and he died at a hospital early the next day.

The sheriff's office has said the guards were trying to get Anderson to participate after he became uncooperative.

The second autopsy was ordered after the teen's parents questioned the findings of Bay County's medical examiner, and was conducted Monday by Hillsborough County Medical Examiner Vernard Adams.

"My opinion is that he died because of what you see in the videotape," said Baden, referring to the surveillance video.

Baden, who reviewed medical evidence in the slaying of Martin Luther King Jr. and worked for a congressional committee that reinvestigated the assassination of President Kennedy, said it will be several weeks before Adams can determine the exact cause of death because tissue samples must be analyzed and other evidence considered.

Pam Bondi, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober, confirmed Baden's assertion. She would not elaborate, saying it will be months before the investigation is complete. Ober was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to investigate the case.

Anderson's mother, Gina Jones, said she wants to see action now.

"Now the truth is out, and I want justice," she said.

The medical examiner who made the initial finding of sickle cell, Dr. Charles Siebert, won't comment until the investigation is complete, his office said Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff's Office, which operated the camp, also declined to comment.

No guards have been arrested or fired but the camp has been closed.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Tallahassee and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division also have opened investigations.
Mother of Teen Killed in Florida Boot Camp: ˜I'm Finally Getting Justice for My Baby'

Date: Wednesday, November 29, 2006
By: Melissa Nelson, Associated Press

PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - The death of a teen who was roughed up by guards at a juvenile boot camp has prompted a shake-up in Florida's criminal justice system, the resignation of its top law enforcement officer and now charges against seven former guards and a nurse.

In the past 11 months, news stations have repeatedly aired a surveillance video showing the guards beating and kicking 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson during a 30-minute altercation at the Bay County sheriff's camp in Panama City on Jan. 5. The nurse is seen doing nothing to stop the scene.

Guards said Anderson was uncooperative and had refused to participate during group exercises. The teen collapsed in the camp's exercise yard and died at a hospital the next day.

The nurse, Kristin Anne Schmidt, was expected to have a bond hearing Wednesday. She and seven former guards were charged with aggravated manslaughter Tuesday.

"Today is a good day for me. I'm finally getting justice for my baby," said Gina Jones, Anderson's mother.

AP Video

The seven guards have bonded out of jail on $25,000 bail. An arraignment was scheduled for mid-January and the defendants will be tried together. All face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the first-degree felony.

Schmidt's attorney, Jim Appleman, told The News Herald of Panama City that his client was not able to turn herself in until about 11 p.m. Tuesday because she was fulfilling obligations to a Hospice patient.

The death prompted the state to dismantle its military-style detention system for young offenders, sparked protests at the state Capitol and prompted the resignation of Florida Department of Law Enforcement chief Guy Tunnell, who started Bay County's boot camp when he was sheriff there.

Gov. Jeb Bush signed a bill in May to replace Florida's boot camps with programs that offer job training and counseling and prohibit physical discipline.

Dr. Vernard Adams, the medical examiner for Hillsborough County, ruled the guards' hands blocked the boy's mouth, and the "forced inhalation of ammonia fumes" caused his vocal cords to spasm.

The guards had said in an incident report that they used ammonia capsules five times to gain cooperation from the boy who was in custody for a probation violation for trespassing at a school.

The guards charged are Charles Helms Jr., 50, Henry Dickens, 50, Charles Enfinger, 33, Patrick Garrett, 30, Raymond Hauck, 48, Henry McFadden Jr., 33, and Joseph Walsh II, 35.

"To a degree, it is a relief to have the charge filed because that other shoe has finally dropped," said attorney Waylon Graham, who represents Helms Jr. "This wasn't a surprise to anybody. Now we can go forward."

Jonathan Dingus, who represents McFadden, said he and his client were ready to begin their defense.

Garrett said through his lawyer, Bob Sombathy, that he was disappointed that charges were filed. "He's relieved that the facts in his case will finally come out," Sombathy said.

Bob Pell, an attorney who represents Walsh, said he learned of the decision to charge his client from The Associated Press.

"I didn't anticipate it. I was hoping cooler heads would prevail," he said.

An initial autopsy found Anderson died of natural complications of sickle cell trait, a usually benign blood disorder. But after an uproar and cries of a cover-up, a second autopsy was conducted by another medical examiner, and it concluded Anderson suffocated because of the actions of the guards.

Still pending is the family's wrongful death lawsuit against the state Department of Juvenile Justice, which oversaw the boot camp system, the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the seven guards. They are seeking more than $40 million in damages.
Boot Camp Death Suit Settled for $7.4 Million

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By: Brent Kallestad, Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - (AP) County authorities have agreed to pay $2.4 million to the family of a teenager who died after being roughed up by guards at a state-supervised boot camp, an attorney for the family said Tuesday.

Added to a $5 million claim being fast-tracked through the Legislature, the deal brings the total settlement over the death last year of Martin Lee Anderson to $7.4 million, said the family's attorney, Ben Crump. The family had sued for $40 million.

"The parents did not want to go through two lengthy trials and reliving the traumatic events that surrounded the death of their son," Crump said.

The Legislature dismantled military-style youth boot camps last year after the 14-year-old's death.

A report said seven guards at the sheriff's boot camp in Panama City, in Bay County, engaged in "abusive and inhumane" behavior when they struck Anderson with fists and knees, knocked him to the ground and held ammonia capsules under his nose.

The guards and a nurse who watched have been charged with manslaughter. All pleaded not guilty last month. They face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

The limit on claims is $200,000, and any amount over that must be approved by the Legislature and Gov. Charlie Crist.

The Bay County Sheriff's Office did not immediately return a phone message.
Originally posted by negrospiritual:
does this mean no trial?

No, there will be a trial, NS ... but against the guards only. The county/state is paying off so there's not trial against them for damages and such. I think they knew that a jury probably would have given the family the $40 million they were asking for! Eek

But what the guards themselves did is still going to be tried.
Originally posted by negrospiritual:

I hope it's on court tv!

I really feel that black america slept on this one. Although there were protests and such, this should have garnered much more outrage. The NAACP was involved on a local level, but I didn't hear Bruce Gordon et. al decry the brutal death of this 14 year old black child. Where was the NAACP?

tfro Excellent question, negrospiritual.

But, actually, I never heard Gordon decry much of anything!! His thing was mostly image and perception ... never much as far as action. I think his job was to make money. But, as for the rest of the crew ... doesn't seem like they had (ever have) much else to do! Roll Eyes
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Originally posted by negrospiritual:

I hope it's on court tv!

I really feel that black america slept on this one. Although there were protests and such, this should have garnered much more outrage. The NAACP was involved on a local level, but I didn't hear Bruce Gordon et. al decry the brutal death of this 14 year old black child. Where was the NAACP?

tfro Excellent question, negrospiritual.

But, actually, I never heard Gordon decry much of anything!! His thing was mostly image and perception ... never much as far as action. I think his job was to make money. But, as for the rest of the crew ... doesn't seem like they had (ever have) much else to do! Roll Eyes

..which is why, sad to say, the organization teeters on the edge of irrelevancy today.
Commentary: The NAACP's Goals - and Its Strategies to Achieve Them - Need to Be Updated and Upgraded

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2007
By: Tonyaa Weathersbee,

Well, the new blood has been purged from the top of the nation's oldest civil rights organization – and with it another piece of its 21st century relevance.

And that's troubling.

This month Bruce S. Gordon quit as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People after less than two years on the job. His resignation was especially surprising, considering that many believed the NAACP's decision to hire Gordon, a former Verizon executive, rather than drawing from its usual stable of ministers and activists, signaled a new turn towards dealing with the social and economic underpinnings of the new realities of racial oppression.

Turns out they were wrong.

Differences in vision ultimately cut a schism between Gordon, 61, and the board of the 98-year-old civil rights organization. Gordon wanted the NAACP to expand its role beyond civil rights advocacy to personal empowerment by focusing on things such as wealth-building, mentoring and counseling. Board members, on the other hand, opposed such a change, saying that the NAACP was about social justice, not social services.

"Social service organizations deal with effects of racial discrimination," Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP board, told The New York Times. "We deal with the beast itself."

There's a lot to be said for dealing with the beast that is discrimination and racism. But at the same time, there's also a lot to be said for empowering black people so that they are less likely to succumb to habits that feed the beast.

Sounds like that's what Gordon was trying to do.

For example, we're all aware that people who are caught selling crack cocaine -- most of whom tend to be black -- get harsher sentences than powder cocaine sellers who tend to be white. That's discriminatory -- and the NAACP and other anti-discrimination organizations should continue to fight to end that disparity. And here in Florida, nearly a third of all those who cannot vote are black men with felony convictions -- making them prey to a racist law that disenfranchises them until they're able to get a hearing to get their civil rights restored.

That's wrong too -- and it usually takes the type of leadership provided by the NAACP that forces such situations to change.

Yet at the same time, black people would certainly advance more -- as per the mission of the NAACP -- if more had the will to refuse to be loyal customers of the criminal justice system and other pathologies that are used to keep them in a state of non-advancement.

And of course, one of the ways to make black men reject criminality as their only source of esteem is to talk economic and social empowerment.

If more black men, for example, knew how to navigate their way around this new, technologically-driven economy, more would cease to believe that their power lies in how much drugs they can sell and how many competitors they can kill.

If more young black women understood that one key to building wealth means holding off on having children while they are teenagers, then that helps to advance the race.

Now, I understand that the NAACP can't be all things to all people. And Bond and other board members have a point in not wanting the organization's mission to become muddled or duplicitous. Perhaps it may wind up doing some of the things that Gordon suggested.

But expanding its mission to deal with empowerment as well as advocacy would good for the NAACP. In fact, I'm almost certain it would help -- because aside from the exception of James Byrd's racially-motivated murder, voting irregularities and isolated cases of police brutality, there's not a lot about the NAACP's mission that gets black people fired up anymore -- hence its stagnant membership.

Here's hoping that in the future, the NAACP board and who ever leads it will not only be able to agree on the goal of black people's advancement, but on the strategy as well.

One that involves more new ways to starve that old beast called discrimination and inequality.

Or to slay it altogether.
Jury Selection Begins in Trial of Boot Camp Guards, Nurse for Martin Lee Anderson's Death

Date: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By: Melissa Nelson, Associated Press

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - (AP) Chanting demonstrators carried photographs of a dead 14-year-old as jury selection began Monday for the manslaughter trial of seven juvenile boot camp guards and a nurse who are charged in his death.

Martin Lee Anderson died in January 2006 after being taken to a hospital from the now-closed Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp.

He had been sent to the camp for a probation violation and became lethargic during a physical fitness test shortly after arriving. An exercise yard videotape shows seven guards repeatedly hitting the boy with their fists and knees. The camp nurse is accused of watching but doing nothing during most of the 30-minute encounter.

Anderson was black; white and black guards hit him.

By early afternoon, 80 potential jurors had answered initial courtroom questions and 45 had been approved for additional screening; nearly all said they had seen at least part of the video on television. They were not automatically dismissed if they had seen the video; some were dismissed for knowing the guards or Anderson's family.
Anderson's parents declined to answer questions from The Associated Press during a brief break in questioning.

More than 1,400 Bay County residents were summoned for jury selection, being held in a makeshift courtroom in a civic center to accommodate the crowd. That is one of every 90 adults in the Florida Panhandle county.

The large number is needed because the case has gotten so much media attention locally. If an impartial panel can't be found, the trial will be moved to another Florida county.

Defense attorney Waylon Graham said he expected to have a jury pool by Tuesday night.

"You are talking about something that has been on TV constantly and on the radio constantly and the governor has meddled in this thing almost from the beginning, but I don't think it will get moved, said Graham, who represents Charles Helms Jr., the ranking camp guard on duty the day Anderson entered the camp.

Prosecutors have declined to answer questions about the case.

More than 400 people were expected to be screened Monday, and Circuit Judge Michael Overstreet told attorneys he expected the process to continue past 8 p.m.

About 20 demonstrators stood outside the civic center and carried large posters showing Anderson and bearing slogans such as "Justice 4 Martin."

Their chants of "What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now," could be heard in the second-floor courtroom.

The original autopsy on Anderson, conducted by the Bay County medical examiner, attributed his death to natural complications of sickle cell trait, a genetic blood disorder.

After an outcry from Anderson's family and the public, his body was exhumed and a second autopsy by another doctor found he had suffocated.

The defense will lean heavily on the first autopsy, saying it shows the guards and nurses were not to blame.

Then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober to prosecute the case, citing a potential conflict of interest for local prosecutors. His team will say that the second autopsy combined with the video shows that Anderson was killed.

The Florida Legislature dismantled the state's military-style youth boot camps after Anderson's death. The case also led to the resignation of the chief of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The Legislature agreed to pay Anderson's family $5 million earlier this year to settle civil claims in the case.

Several potential jurors questioned the settlement.

"I just think it was out of sequence as to what was supposed to happen," said one potential juror, an older white man. "Suits going this way and that, people paying out money, demanding this or that or that before anyone was adjudicated guilty."
This is so tragic, so very tragic and there are so many stories. It hurts my heart to think of a child being beaten so brutally. I cannot describe how badly this makes me feel. My heart is heavy.

And it makes me wonder, if there really is a g.d WHY WHY WHY does he/she allow such things to happen? It's enough to make a person almost lose any resemblance of faith & hope. I'm reminded of the pain I felt when my nephew was brutally murdered and I know that I know that I know . . . there is NO AMOUNT OF MONEY IN THIS WORLD to compensate for such a loss and I know this boy's parents would understand exactly what I mean.

I know I'm off topic and. . .

I should've skipped this thread, I shouldn't have read the articles, they hit way too close to home.

My condolences to the family.

Rest in peace Martin Lee Anderson.

Feds: No civil right charges in teen's Florida boot camp death

By Rich Phillips, CNN

Miami, Florida (CNN) -- More than four years after the death of 14-year-old Florida boot camp inmate Martin Lee Anderson, the U.S. Department of Justice has announced no federal criminal civil rights charges will be filed against eight staff members.

The announcement effectively closes the case.

"After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents determined that the evidence was insufficient to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges. Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed," the Justice Department said in a news release.

In 2007, a Florida jury found seven guards and a nurse not guilty of manslaughter and related charges in Anderson's death. Anderson was African-American, and the guards were white and African-American.

"There was never any intent other than to straighten this young man out," said attorney Hoot Crawford, who represents Henry Dickens, who was one of the guards.

"They were gonna have a bad day in court if they tried to try this case," Crawford said.

Anderson died on January 5, 2006. It was his first day at the Bay County Sheriff's Office Boot Camp, and after orientation, a security camera showed he was sent to the yard for a run, with other inmates

He complained of fatigue, but staff members testified at the state trial that they thought he was faking.

A nurse checked his vital signs and said he was fine.

The guards could then be seen, on videotape enhanced by NASA, using a series of techniques used to gain Anderson's compliance. The tactics included pushing smelling salts up his nose and punching him.

The 30-minute video shows that an ambulance was later called. Anderson was taken to a hospital, where he died.

The Bay County medical examiner ruled that Anderson died from complications of sickle cell trait, a genetic disorder that prevented him from breathing.

But after a public outcry and demonstrations, then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush appointed a special prosecutor, who had the boy's body exhumed. A second autopsy found that Anderson suffocated from the actions of the guards.

The Department of Justice said it met with the Anderson family this morning to inform them of the decision not to pursue charges.

"It's a slap in the face," said family attorney Benjamin Crump, who was present for the meeting. He called the meeting tense, and said that Anderson's mother, Gina Jones, and father, Robert Anderson left the meeting in disgust, but he said, he convinced them to return.

"When you have a miscarriage of justice in the deep south, and they don't do anything, who polices the police, if it's not the justice department," he told CNN.

"It was the only hope that the Anderson family had to hold these people accountable. It says the police can do anything they want," he said.

Anderson's family has already settled lawsuits against Bay County and the state of Florida for more than $7 million.

The death sparked protests in Florida's capital, Tallahassee, and eventually led to the dismantling of the military-style boot camps in Florida.

In its news release, the Department of Justice said prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that an official willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right.

"Neither accident, mistake, fear, negligence nor bad judgment is sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation," the release said.

"You can't have a crime without intent," said Crawford, the defense attorney who represents the former guard.

"The results are tragic ... a tragic accident that's messed up a lot of lives."

Find this article at:
"When you have a miscarriage of justice in the deep south, and they don't do anything, who polices the police, if it's not the justice department," he told CNN.

and with that, I just lost confidence in Eric Holder.  First Sean Bell, now this?  It's basically Negro Hunting Season now...

How the hell are you NOT violating civil rights when you obstruct someone's airway and prevent them from BREATHING?

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