Black Teen Martin Lee Anderson Killed at Bay County Boot Camp to Be Remembered, NAACP Call for Action
By Kevin Earl Wood, Investigative Reporter
Bay Community News
Panama City, Florida
January 9, 2016
On January 5, 2006 Martin Lee Anderson, a 14 year old black child, was admitted to the Bay County Boot Camp facility in Panama City, Bay County, Florida . Bay County Sheriff’s Office guards forced him the same day to continue exercising until Anderson collapsed, lost consciousness and later died.
After the Anderson assault by guards the boot camp was eventually shut down as were others in Florida.
While Anderson was unconscious the Boot Camp guards battered Anderson’s limp body on the ground while Boot Camp Nurse Kristin Schmidt stood by with her hands on her hips and did nothing to help the child.
After the Boot Camp guards continued relentlessly to batter the unconscious child emergency medical personnel arrived and the child was placed in an ambulance and transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. The child died the next day on January 6, 2006.
Although seven guards and the nurse were charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, a felony, an all-white Bay County Jury acquitted all of them of the charges. Federal officials failed to prosecute the guards and the nurse under federal civil rights laws for violation of Anderson’s civil rights.
The FBI in Panama City and the U.S. Attorney in Tallahassee have for years since 1998 to the present covered up the violent and other racist history of former Bay County Sheriff Guy Tunnell who established the Bay County Boot Camp.
On New Years Day 1998 then Sheriff Guy Tunnell authorized a horde of his deputies to violently attack a peacefully and lawfully operating “black” dance club called the Sundancer on Thomas Drive at Panama City Beach and who made about a dozen false arrests of black clientele, including two U.S. Air Force Airmen, where charges were later dismissed by the court in Bay County.
Tunnell had met earlier with local white neighbors at a fire station on Thomas Drive who wanted the “black” club shut down in their “white” neighborhood.
In a later federal lawsuit U.S. District Court Federal Judge Stephen P. Mickle found that Tunnell was involved in a conspiracy based on racial animus against the Sundancer business.
Afterwards Tunnell was hand-picked to become the “top-cop” of Florida as the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) despite citizen objections and NAACP Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze’s explicit objections.
President Nweze was quoted by the St. Pete Times proclaiming, “If Guy Tunnell goes back in as sheriff or any other public office, it’s a slap in the face of all Floridians.”
The Panama City News Herald quoted President Nweze as to Bush’s hand picking of Tunnell for FDLE:
Tunnell, 52, has repeatedly declined comment on the issue. But Poole and Adora Obi Nweze, Florida’s NAACP president, called for Bush to rethink his appointment based on the lawsuit.
“We are in complete disagreement with this appointment,” Nweze said at an August press conference, “and we would wish the governor to please take time and investigate those people he definitely wants to have in various spots.” Said Poole: “The federal judge is suggesting the sheriff lied. Normally a federal judge’s opinion carries heavy weight in the judicial system.”
Tunnell continued his racist antics as Commissioner of FDLE and even Florida Governor Jeb Bush could no longer tolerate Tunnell’s racist conduct and Tunnell thereafter resigned from FDLE and returned to Bay County. Tunnell is now a County Commissioner in Bay County.
The Miami Herald, in President Nweze’s hometown of Miami, reported on Tunnell’s resignation from FDLE and also reported on this reporter’s (Kevin Earl Wood’s) long time opposition to Tunnell’s racist history.
BY MARC CAPUTO AND MARY ELLEN KLAS
Friday, April 21, 2006
Guy Tunnell abruptly ended his controversial run as head of Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement on Thursday, days after sources said he made off-color remarks comparing black leaders who were to attend a Capitol rally to Osama bin Laden and Jesse James.
Tunnell submitted his resignation to Gov. Jeb Bush hours after The Miami Herald requested he comment on whether he likened U.S. Sen. Barack Obama to terrorist leader bin Laden and the Rev. Jesse Jackson to outlaw James during a meeting of Bush’s agency heads Tuesday. One person in the room and another source who spoke with an agency head told The Miami Herald about his remarks.
Obama and Jackson were invited to a march today to bring attention to the death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson after an altercation with guards at a Panama City boot camp. The FDLE was initially investigating, until a special prosecutor threw it off the case after The Miami Herald reported Tunnell exchanged e-mails with the sheriff who ran the camp. Tunnell told The Miami Herald he was ”embarrassed” by the e-mail exchange because it ”tarnished the agency.” He said he did nothing wrong, but said he apologized for the “appearance of impropriety.”
Martin’s family never trusted Tunnell’s leadership, however, and repeatedly called for his ouster from the case. The family met with Bush for the first time Thursday, and the governor pledged that the investigation would be handled fairly. ”The governor said if someone has done something wrong, you should be held accountable. We hope this is an example of that,” said Benjamin Crump, the family’s attorney. Sources said Tunnell joked that he wished he were in uniform to meet Osama bin Laden and Jesse James. Obama will be unable to attend the rally.
One source said Tunnell was gently rebuked by Lt. Gov. Toni Jennings, and Tunnell awkwardly laughed it off.
Controversy, however, followed him even when he was approved by Bush and the Cabinet. Tunnell hadn’t had the proper background check and a Panama City activist, Kevin Wood, publicly told the officials that Tunnell was a ”blatant racist.” His evidence: a 1997 court ruling by U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle in 1997 that said Tunnell and the Bay County commission has a ”common plan… motivated by racial animus, to close” a black-owned night club that white neighbors didn’t like.
Because this reporter opposed Tunnell, and helped the dozen or so black victims of the Sundancer club attacked and falsely arrested under then Sheriff Tunnell’s authority, this reporter has been barred illegally and unconstitutionally from attending public court proceedings at the Bay County Courthouse to which he is not a party by former Circuit Judge Glenn Louis Hess, now the State Attorney for the 14th Judicial Circuit and Bay County.
Glenn Hess is the former attorney for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and Guy Tunnell when Tunnell was then Sheriff of Bay County.
After the January 1, 1998, raid on the “black” Sundancer business and the illegal arrests of black patrons, this reporter helped the victims of the violent attack by helping them to file formal complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice on March 27, 1998.
In direct response to this reporter’s complaint package to the Justice Department, then Circuit Judge Glenn Hess illegally issued on April 24, 1998 an illegal “administrative” order barring this reporter from attending further Sundancer court proceedings and meetings with public defenders representing the dozen or so black victims of the January 1, 1998 New Years Day attack on the Sundancer.
Hess’s administrative order was illegally entered by him because Hess was not, and never has been, the Chief Judge of the 14th Judicial Circuit. The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee, Florida, controlling over the 14th Judicial Circuit, has ruled that only a chief judge may enter and sign administrative orders in State, Dept. of Juvenile Justice v. Soud, 685 So.2d 1376, 22 Fla. L. Weekly D165 (Fla. 1st DCA 1997). The 1st DCA stated in its decision:
Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.050(b)(2) provides that “[t]he chief judge [of a circuit] may enter and sign administrative orders.” It is undisputed that the respondent is not the chief judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. Read in context, it seems to us that the intent behind this provision is that only the chief judge “may enter and sign administrative orders.” Accordingly, we hold that the respondent lacked the authority to enter the “administrative order” in question.
In the administrative order Judge Hess falsely stated that this reporter did not have authorization to attend public defender attorney-client meetings and that this reporter had remained in the Bay County Courthouse after hours without authorization.
This reporter’s two teen daughters were award-winning Teen Court volunteers and attorneys in the program. Teen Court met in the courthouse after the courthouse closed at 4:30 pm. Parents were welcome to remain in the courthouse to be with their children and to sit in and observe the Teen Court proceedings after 4:30 pm. in the first floor county courtroom.
Judge Hess used courthouse bailiffs, Bay County Sheriff’s deputies, to harass this reporter as did then Sheriff Guy Tunnell to harass black clientele of the Sundancer business.
When this reporter was told by a bailiff during Teen Court to leave the courthouse this reporter did indeed refuse to leave the courthouse where he, and other parents, had a right to attend Teen Court proceedings.
Furthermore, this reporter had the consent of the public defenders and their black Sundancer clients to attend attorney-client meetings in the courthouse.
Attached to the county courtroom on the first floor of the courthouse were three meeting rooms where public defenders met with the clients en masse at pretrial hearings as a matter of convenience rather than individually at the attorney’s office.
On January 15, 2016 and January 16, 2016 Martin Lee Anderson will be remembered in local commemorative services, and a call to action, in Panama City also in remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King.
NAACP Florida State Conference President Adora Obe Nweze will officiate over the services and call to action.
Below is a flyer from the Bay County NAACP branch that provides details as to the events date, time and place information.
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