All-White Jury Fumbles Ball on Boot Camp Verdict


11-05-07, 10:56 am

The concept of boot camps as a substitute for long prison stints for non-violent or pre-adult felonies is an early ‘90’s phenomena. It came as a replacement for convicts who opted for the military as opposed to doing their time in a federal penitentiary. Some of these facilities have been started by either liberal or conservative benefactors and initiatives but invariably wind up being run by overzealous right-leaning grunts overdosing on too much Rush Limbaugh/Michael Savage misinformation and emotionalism and anxious to dish out their windy “Captain America” speeches and fascist tactics.

On Friday (10/12) 7 former prison guards; Henry Dickens, Patrick Garrett, Raymond Hauck, Charles Efinger, Charles Helms Jr., Henry McFadden Jr., Joseph Walsh, and nurse Kristin Schmidt all faced 30 years for Aggravated Manslaughter relating to the death of a young African American; 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson at the Panama City Boot Camp in Florida. All were declared not guilty by an all-white jury after 90 minutes of deliberation. Many in the Black community feel the jury had it easy, the incident was taped. Then again so was Rodney King.

That these jurors can make these rulings with a straight face continues to amaze me, especially since this particular boot camp had warning signs from its beginning. It was started by Guy Tunnell, a former Bay County Sheriff who became Commissioner of the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement (FDLE) and it immediately became its own self-fulfilling prophecy – before the Anderson incident the Panama City Camp reportedly received 180 complaints. Tunnell resigned from his FDLE post under pressure on 4/06 due to comments he made comparing Jesse Jackson to Jesse James and Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden. Talk about Tunnel Vision. I love how quickly these red-necks give themselves away. Florida has long considered itself a democratic constitutional republic, but has proven it is nothing of the sort

Anderson was attacked by the 7 guards on his first day of camp (1/5/06) during PT session in which he stopped exercising and stated “this is b--l-s--t,” Not unusual behavior for a kid on his first day. There is a natural adjustment period that I assume is usually recognized, but in his case he was immediately pounced on. As stated before, the guards (they call themselves drill instructors or Di's) made it easy on the jurors; they actually taped it. Eight minutes of footage is available on the web, the final minutes show Anderson being taken to a large fence surrounded by the Di's and instantly he is ganged up on with the nurse just standing there with her hands on her hips just looking on. No sign of alarm from her at all. You’ll have too watch the rest, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Articulate it any way you choose, bullies and racists cannot correct children, but they continue to seek these types of employment.

Anderson's family and supporters compare white America's outrage and vilification of Blacks who stage dog fights to the juror's lack of outrage toward Martin's boot camp killers. Even talk show host Ellen DeGeneres had no problem crying on national television over death threats toward her over a dog that wasn't harmed. Here's something the nation's misplaced tears can run on. This wasn't a fair trial, it was a fixed trial.

--Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion.Contact him at