Week of Martin Lee Anderson Verdict Protests Planned in Bay County

Submitted by tnjp on November 25, 2007 - 7:45pm.

Protest activities announced By Paul Flemming November 24, 2007
Here are some of the events of the week announced by organizers on Friday:

  • 6 p.m., Sunday at Free Spirit Community Church in Springfield for a mass meeting.

  • 7 p.m., Monday at Providence FGME Church in Springfield for a political forum.

  • 7 p.m., Wednesday at Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Panama City for a prayer meeting.

  • 7 p.m., Friday, at the Glenwood Community Center in Panama City for a youth rally.

  • 9 a.m., Dec. 1, beginning at Redwood Cemetery for a march to the Bay County Juvenile Courthouse, with a rally set for 11 a.m. at the courthouse.

PANAMA CITY — Six weeks after the verdict in the Martin Lee Anderson case, ministers and activists announced a week of events to mark their outrage at the outcome.

Seven former drill instructors and a camp nurse were cleared of all charges in the death of Anderson, a Panama City teen who died Jan. 6, 2006, after he was struck, kneed and forced to breathe ammonia capsules at a Bay County juvenile boot camp...

The not-guilty verdict from an all-white jury on Oct. 12 sparked immediate protests from students in Tallahassee and was among highlighted cases during a demonstration earlier this month in Washington, D.C., decrying what activists say is an increase in hate crimes.

The week’s events in Bay County are designed, in part, “to awaken this community from the slumber of apathy and remove the paralysis of fear and intimidation,” said the Rev. Rufus Wood, pastor at the Love Center Missionary Baptist Church and coordinator for the Concerned Ministers & Citizens Coalition.

Wood and other ministers announced their plans Friday on the steps of the Bay County Courthouse.

Wood said the week-long events are “to express our disappointment and dissatisfaction with the not guilty verdicts . . . (and ) to express our support of the federal investigation, which has already begun.”

The planned events start with a meeting Sunday evening at the Free Spirit Community Church in Springfield and conclude on Dec. 1 with a march from Anderson’s grave at Redwood Cemetery to the Bay County Juvenile Courthouse.

Following the march, a rally is set at 11 a.m. at the juvenile courthouse, site of the trial that found the drill instructors and nurse not guilty and is across the street from the now-closed boot camp.

Charles Steele, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and Charles Hobbs, legal adviser to the NAACP Florida, are scheduled to speak at the rally.

Hobbs has been working with investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice who are conducting a civil rights inquiry into the circumstances of Anderson’s death and the trial in Bay County.

Gregory Dossie, coordinator of the Bay County Chapter of Rainbow PUSH Coalition, said he sought answers to remaining questions about how the trial went, including why there was not a change of venue away from Bay County sought by the prosecution and why there were no blacks on the jury.

Russell Allen Wright, presiding bishop of the Full Gospel Methodist Episcopal Church, said the group had been in touch with organizations throughout the Panhandle and invited them to take part in the rally. He said the group invites everyone to take part, no matter their race.

“This is not about the differences between white and black,” Wright said. “This is about the difference between right and wrong.”

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