Students from Florida A&M University, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College staged a sit-in at the governor’s office at the Capitol Wednesday and Thursday to protest the suspected cover-up in the death of Martin Lee Anderson.
Anderson was the 14-year-old who died Jan. 6 at a Bay County Department of Juvenile Justice boot camp shortly after being beaten, kicked and kneed by boot camp guards.
Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Jeb Bush and some senators met privately with four of the leaders who facilitated preparations for the sit-in.
Two of the four leaders included FAMU Student Government Association President Ramon Alexander and Gabriel Pendas, FSU’s senate president. The protestors discussed their demands with the legislators and asked for change.
Alexander believes the governor has the capacity to influence decision makers.
“Enough effort has not been committed to this case,” Alexander said. “We aren’t going anywhere until appropriate attention is brought to this case.”
But the governor’s responses to the student protesters’ demands were very political, said Kaycee Brock, FSU’s SGA chief of staff.
Gov. Bush also met with the parents of Martin Lee Anderson Thursday. Details on that meeting have not been released.
Over 30 students congregated in the governor’s lobby Wednesday to demand that justice be served and requested to speak with Gov. Bush, while 70 additional protesters rallied outside.
Each student protester wore a Band-Aid on their forehead signifying that Anderson was on their minds.
Pendas stressed that they are protesting about justice, not about racism. “Justice delayed, is justice denied,” Pendas said.
The student protesters intend to remain at the governor’s office until their demands are met.
The protesters have seven demands, said FSU student Joshua Moore, 21, a senior biology student.
Their demands include the release of the second autopsy report; a civil suit against the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; the arrest and accountability of the seven guards and nurse involved; the removal of the medical examiner and his medical license revoked; a location change of the court hearing; and a public apology from Gov. Bush and the FDLE to the Anderson family.
“We plan to stay in the governor’s office until our demands are met,” Moore said. “If it means rescheduling my semester exams, then that’s what I will have to do.”
Every hour, all of the protesters stood and someone read an inspirational quote and recited the list of demands.
According to the protesters, there are mixed emotions among politicians about the sit-in. Some state representatives brought the protesters food, said Brock, 21, a junior sociology student.
She said some also volunteered to stay with them.
The student protesters met with members of the Tallahassee Democratic Party yesterday.
The organization volunteered to donate different items for the march on Anderson’s behalf Friday, including, water bottles and portable restrooms.
Moore said some politicians have commented that the students are being courteous or orderly. No force has been used.
Contact Donnell Jean at firstname.lastname@example.org