Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Martin Lee Anderson

In June 2005, Martin Lee Anderson, a Florida teenager, took a joyride with his sister, a cousin and two friends in his grandmother's jeep. They had an accident. The grandmother had to press charges in order to receive money for the vehicle. Martin was put on probation. A few months later, he was charged with violating the terms of his probation for trespassing at a school. His parents had to choose between a distant detention center and a boot camp nearby. They chose the boot camp. (Narrative drawn from this account).

Martin arrived at the boot camp on January 5, 2006, his "intake day". On an intake day, boys were made to run 16 laps and do multiple push-ups and sit-ups. Martin fell while on his last lap. Nine Guards beat, kneed, and kicked him, in addition to applying pressure-points behind his ears several times, while a nurse watched. They forced him to inhale ammonia while closing his mouth. After about half-an-hour of this, when the boy did not respond, they called in medical help. The boy died at a hospital a day later. He was 14 years old.

The county medical examiner later said in an autopsy report that Martin died from internal bleeding arising from "sickle cell trait".

In February 2006, the Miami Herald (and CNN) obtained a video of the beating recorded at the boot camp. The ensuing furore led to a tortuous investigation which ended yesterday with the guards and the nurse who played onlooker being charged.

Florida now has a law which closed its boot camps and replaced them with facilities focused more on education and counseling.

I will leave it to you to guess Martin's race.


Blogger Manoj said...

The irony is that well-meaning parents and teachers are wary of, or prohibited from, using acceptable methods of physical punishment! On a related note, the BBC has a three-part series titled "Call That Justice" about illegal imprisonment and abuse of children around the world. Three countries have been highlighted - Pakistan, US and Kenya. In any case, putting the US in this club is no different from highlighting the groundwater quality issue in India using Pepsi and Coke.

12/13/2006 6:32 AM  

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