“We should all continue to monitor this case. I know the
National Action Network willm and we will be prepared to
continue supporting by leading marches and attending
court hearings,” Sharpton told
, adding that failure to do
so could be costly.
“Our next struggle will be to see
whether a federal jury will be picked, so they’re not
giving this a Simi Valley jury like in the first Rodney
King trial,” Sharpton said, referring to the jury that
consisted of ten whites that acquitted the white
officers of beating King.
Such a maneuver will not happen because local
activists won’t stand for it, said Beverly Neal,
executive director of the Florida State Conference of
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People. Groups like the NAACP, Neal said, have been
involved in this case since the beginning, writing
letters to everyone from Gov. Jeb Bush on down. But
despite the fact that a child was essentially murdered
in a facility where he was supposed to be set straight,
Neal said some people have been less determined to seek
“You would have thought that more people would be up
in arms, but that’s not the case for many outside of
Panama City,” Neal told BlackAmericaWeb.com.
“We’ve had to nudge some people to get involved in
Neal commends those who’ve spent the last five months
protesting and petitioning for action. She said the
sit-ins by Florida college students, as well as the
national attention brought on in part by Sharpton and
Rev. Jesse Jackson’s involvement have gone a long way in
informing people on what needs to be done.
“Everything that has been done has helped,” Neal
said, adding that plans are in the works for a June 3
demonstration in Panama City. This is just the
beginning, Neal said, adding that such actions are not
being done only in response to Anderson’s tragic death.
“(Martin Anderson) was just the tip of the iceberg.
This abuse has been going on and on for years, and had
Martin’s abuse not been videotaped, we would never have
been able to prove that this abuse happens,” Neal said.
“When it first happened, there was some surface
exposure, but then we started agitating, started
marching and got more attention,” he said. “That’s one
of the reasons you march.
“Had there not been the marches of people like
students and Rev. Jackson, this story would have been
totally off the radar,” Sharpton continued. “And if it’s
not on the radar, no one would know about the injustices
No arrests have been made in connection with
Anderson's death, and Gov. Bush has publicly stated that
he is unsure if suspending Siebert will be possible.
However, Attorney General Charlie Crist told the
Associated Press that Siebert could be suspended pending
further review and the arrests of the guards seen
beating Anderson is probable.
Neal said the state lawmakers should know that she
and others are watching closely.
“As taxpayers, we need to have more say so in how our
tax dollars are being spent,” Neal said. “When these
kids go into custody, they are wards of the state, and
these programs are funded by our tax dollars. The safety
of children is a problem not just in boot camps, but
throughout the entire juvenile justice system. And
that’s what we’re looking at.”
As with many complaints about the justice system,
Sharpton said Anderson’s situation could be par for the
course for so many other young people of color.
“These ordeals affect a higher percentage of people
of color, and that’s enough for people to pay attention
to this case and be prepared to come to Florida if there
is a trial,” Sharpton said. “People need to be active
and understand that if you stop with case, you stop it
before it gets to you. If we wait before it gets to your
step, we might not have people or the time available to