Reaction to verdict in boot camp death10/15/07 Seán Kinane
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On Friday, an all-white Panama City jury handed down all not-guilty verdicts on the manslaughter charges facing seven boot camp guards and one nurse who had been accused in the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson.
Today WMNF’s Sean Kinane spoke with people in predominantly African American neighborhoods of East Tampa to get their reaction to the verdict.
The U.S. Justice Department released a statement Friday saying it would review the evidence to see if Anderson’s civil rights had been violated. East Tampa resident Issac Thompson III wondered whether racism was one motivation for the jury’s verdict.
The verdict was an unfair decision by the all-white jury, according to Kena Jones.
Retired Sgt. Major James Faison wants to see a justice system that’s fair.
More than half of the people WMNF approached chose not to speak on the record. Many of those who did preferred to be anonymous. Some, like Dee Dee who said she saw the video of Martin Lee Anderson being beaten by the guards, gave only their first name.
As she was about to board a bus on 22nd Street, a woman who preferred to remain anonymous said that the videotape evidence convinced her that the jury made the wrong decision.
On the economically depressed corner of North 29th Street and East Lake Avenue, Paul Council and others said that they often felt harassment by police, prison guards, or other uniformed officers.
A woman who preferred to remain anonymous said she has a child in Holmes Correctional Institution in the Panhandle and she calls to check on him every day to make sure he is not abused by guards.
Council and others did not believe defense attorneys who said that Anderson died of sickle cell trait.
The prosecutor should have charged the guards and the nurse on more than just the manslaughter charges they were acquitted of, according to this woman who preferred to remain anonymous.