Students protest for justice in Martin Lee Anderson case

Martin Lee Anderson has not been forgotten.

On Monday, about 35 students from Florida A&M University, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College protested in hopes of the people allegedly responsible for his death, being brought to justice.

With poster boards and signs, students expressed their concern about the outcome of the trial.

The jury selection for Martin Lee Anderson’s trial began on Tuesday, September 25. Since Anderson’s death in January 2006, parents, students and the community have battling to receive a trial date.

Anderson, a 14 year-old black male, died at the Bay County juvenile boot camp on Jan. 6, 2006 due to ammonia inhalation that was forced by the camp guards. The crime was caught on tape showing the guards beating Anderson while the nurse carelessly observed.

As a result of Martin Lee Anderson’s death, the Department of Juvenile Justice, has decided to change some of the aggressive policies involved with military style boot camps, as of Feb. 24, 2006.

Anderson’s parents, Gina Jones and Robert Anderson, had filed a lawsuit of $40 million against the Juvenile Justice Agency, in July 2006. The judge amended the suit and set a trial date of April 16 for Anderson’s parent’s civil lawsuit.

Students sent several car pool style shuttles to Panama City to help get participants to the protest.

Many of the students who attended the protest are also members of the Student Coalition of Justice and have been previously involved with the case.

Vanessa Badin, 22, a senior sociology student at FSU, and also a member of the Student Coalition for Justice, was one of the students that attended the protest in Panama City.

“We were confined in a median area, but I’m glad about the students involved,” Badin said. “One of the guard’s wives got really upset about our appearance.”

After arriving, they received information about the status of the jury selection and the process of narrowing the jury down.

“It’s pretty much going to be an all white jury,” Badin said.

She also said the court will allow students to sit in on the trial.

In April of 2006, over 3,000 students from FAMU, FSU, and TCC students rallied at the state Capitol in hopes of getting state officials to become active in the death of Anderson.

“At that time, no one was really angry about what was going on,” said Phillip Agnew, 22, a senior business administration student from Chicago. “We were hoping they could bring justice.”

Although there has been a lot of support from students in Tallahassee, there are some that were disappointed about the trial’s location.

“We had a lot of initial impact,” Greg Woodall, 21, a senior physics student from Atlanta said. “I’m not really happy with the fact that the trial is going to be held at Panama City. It has the potential to be biased in the accused’s favor.”

Parks and Crump, the leading attorneys on the Anderson case have supported Anderson’s parents since the civil lawsuit began and with the start of the criminal trial.

“It’s very hard for the parents to sit through this,” said Daryl Parks, of Parks & Crump, LLC partner.

Anderson’s case has become a hot topic because of how it was handled, ranging from court case delays to a lack of sympathy from authority officials.

“It’s a high profile case. So many people have formed opinions about the situation,” Parks said.