MARTIN LEE ANDERSONS BODY EXAMINED IN TAMPA-Andrew Stelzer03/13/06
The body of Martin Lee Anderson, the 14 year old who died after being beaten by guards at a Bay County boot camp in January, was brought to Tampa this weekend for a second autopsy. Andersons parents and many community members were outraged at the first autopsy, which blamed Anderson death not on the beating, but sickle cell trait, a blood disorder that strikes 1 of 10 African Americans. At 8 am this morning, about 75 people gathered outside the medical examiners office in downtown Tampa to protest what has happened so far, and call for an independent autopsy on Andersonâ€™s body. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer was there and filed this report. -----------------
ACT-Jones "my baby was beaten tortured and killed in boot camp, in 2 hours.."
Gini Jones, the mother of Martin lee Anderson, said that if she had known her son would be beaten only 2 hours after she voluntarily dropped him off at a boot camp, she would have found a better way to punish him for taking a joyride in his grandmother car.
Gini Jones, Andersons mother ACT-Jones "my baby he was only in there for 2 hours. I get a phone call says heâ€™s ok, then I get another call said go to the hospital..."
On Friday, Andersons Body was taken back out of the grave and moved from Panama City to Tampa, for a new examination. After the first coroner ruled the death was due to sickle cell trait, Andersons Family and lawyers called for an independent medical exam, and brought in Dr Michael Baden, who in the past has examined the body of John F Kennedy, Emmett Till and Medger Evers, to observe the new autopsy by the Hillsborough county medical examiner.
ACT-Brown "its preposterous...this finding gives us cause to doubt credibility of the coroner.."
Sevell Brown is the President of the Florida state Southern Christian Leadership conference.
ACT-brown "the examiner is basically working with sheriff, and as then as it's set, there goes the medical examiner.."
CHANTING---NO JUSTICE NO PEACE>>WHAT DO WE WANT JUSTICE
The original medical examiner had an expired license, and several years ago, had incorrectly identified the sex of a corpse, In addition, Andersonâ€™s body was taken across county lines for the autopsy, which the coroner himself said was unusual. Adora Obi Nweze of the President of the Florida state conference of the NAACP.
ACT-Adora "we know that it was not sickle cell trait, we know from video that he was beaten to death and we are waiting for independent truth.."
ACT-Adora "we have reason to doubt our state based on what happened..we donâ€™t know when the governor appoints someone whether they will do it.."
The Sickle Cell Disease Association of America has issued a statement that Andersons death had nothing to do with sickle cell trait. Frank Gretta, the CEO for the sickle cell disease association of Florida, said his group asked to be included in the autopsy and was denied.
ACT-Gretta "sickle cell trait has nothing to do with the death, its doesnâ€™t cause internal bleeding or trauma, we have found no data that say its the case of trauma.."
Over 3 million African Americans, about 1 in 10, have sickle cell trait; Brown said the implications of accepting the initial coroners report would be disastrous for African American trying to get justice in America.
ACT-brown "this coroner has scapegoated the sickle cell trait, which 3 million African Americans carry and 200 million..this medical report and finding cannot be allowed to stand, if it does, all 3 million African American are now at risk if they interface, they can be exonerated base n precedent.."
Others took issue with Governor Jeb Bushâ€™s choice of Hillsborough county state attorney Mark Ober to investigate the death. UHURU member Connie Burton noted that Ober was the same attorney who prosecuted Jennifer Porter, the white schoolteachers who killed 2 black children in a hit and run in 2004.
ACT Connie CHANTING "not mark Ober, who let Jennifer porter go on vacation, allowed her mother to wash the car and talking about being an accessory to crime..that was white privilege and Anderson was black..""
Burton, along with many others, believes that Ober treated Porter lightly because she was white and the children who were killed were black.
ACT-Connie "Mark Ober is not unbiased..we see young African American men have been sentenced to prison..we donâ€™t have confidence and the Wilkerson children, we found he was able look the other way in dealing with her, when they talk about criminal justice they arenâ€™t talking about Jennifer porter, they are talking about Anderson.."
Anderson had been complaining for 40 minutes that he couldnâ€™t breathe before an ambulance took him to a hospital. The guards forced ammonia tablets up the boysâ€™ nose, a technique which is designed to prevent his from passing out. Some of the protestors compared Andersonâ€™s case to that of Emitt Till, a 14 year old who was killed by white men in Mississippi in 1955. Tills body never had an autopsy performed on it until last year when it was dug up and examined. Sevell Brown said the examination of Andersonsâ€™ death shows that some things have not changed in the south.
ACT-Brown "....it must come to an end and the cover up must stop"
Brown said that the US commission on Civil rights was brought into the Panhandle 25 years ago to look into a pattern of exonerating law enforcement for the deaths of African Americans.
ACT-brown "this is classic antebellum plantation politics, certain area of the country its as if martin passed them by..the panhandle has been stigmitized..progressive leadership has not been seen."
CHANTING--MURDER IN THE FIRST DEGREE--BOOT CAMPS GUARDS ARE GUILTY
The NAACP is calling for the department of justice to investigate Floridaâ€™s entire juvenile justice system, including the boot camps. Cathy Corry is with www.justiceforkids.org, a 5-year-old organization which serves as a watchdog over the Florida department of juvenile Justice.
ACT-Corry "its just incredible what the public doesnâ€™t know until a tragedy happens...these kids should not be treated with fear and force..recidivism rate shows, and you have angry kids.."
Although the boot camp in which Anderson dies has been closed, there is debate in Tallahassee about what to do with the xxx remaining camps in the state. 30 children have died in boot camps in the US since they first opened in the mid 1980s. 2 other black teenagers have died in Floridaâ€™s boot camps in the last 3 years. Corry says the fact that 62 percent of Floridaâ€™s boot camp graduates end up being arrested again is a clear indication that they need to be closed.
ACT-Corry "the boot cam mentality, yelling screaming, I donâ€™t see how anybody could think that works, its ridiculous.."
Some of the protestors were planning to stay outside the medical examiners office all day, in hopes that they will be given the autopsy results.
For WMNF news, Iâ€™m Andrew Stelzer