Tuesday, December 12, 2017
News Roundup

Trayvon Martin and Martin Anderson: Can tragedy create a chance for change?

An unarmed black teenager is dead. What happened to him sparks outrage, makes headlines and raises questions about race.

Charges are filed. A jury says not guilty. And afterward comes much talk about whether that teenager's death will change anything at all.

Sound familiar? Because before Trayvon Martin, there was Martin Lee Anderson and Florida's infamous boot camp case.

Of course there are differences. As everyone knows by now in the story that has crossed the globe, Trayvon Martin was 17 and walking home from a convenience store in Sanford last year when he had the bad luck to be spotted by an armed neighborhood watch volunteer named George Zimmerman.

Back in 2006, Anderson had been sent to a juvenile boot camp in Panama City after he violated his probation on a grand theft charge of stealing his grandmother's car. He was 14.

In the first hours of his first day at boot camp, Anderson collapsed after a run. A video from that day shows guards surrounding him, punching and kneeing him in what were later described as standard use-of-force "hammer strikes," "knee strikes" and "pain compliance techniques." A nurse watched. Anderson was forced to inhale ammonia. He died the next day at the hospital.

As with the shooting in Sanford, many of us were outraged. Politicians horrified by what they saw on that video vowed change. Others defended the status quo.

I asked Hillsborough Chief Assistant State Attorney Mike Sinacore, one of the prosecutors on the boot camp case, if he saw similarities. Of course, he said, "in the immediate public perception and the passionate feelings that supporters on both sides had."

"They were both polarizing cases," he said. "And they were far more complex than they looked at first glance."

The guards, along with a nurse, were charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. The defense pointed to sickle cell trait.

And the jury said not guilty.

In the case in which Zimmerman followed Martin and later shot him dead after he said Martin attacked him, the jury had Florida's controversial "stand your ground" law to consider. According to the instructions the jury heard, Zimmerman had no duty to retreat and could use deadly force if he felt it necessary to avoid death or serious injury. Even if he started the chain of events in the first place.

And the jury said not guilty.

So the question in the aftermath is: What, if anything, changes now?

Anderson's death brought about one big change: Florida shut down its juvenile boot camps.

Now there is talk of scrutiny for the unevenly-applied stand your ground law that turns justifiable self defense into shoot-first-ask-questions-later legislation.

Count Sinacore and plenty of other law enforcement types among those who believe it's a law in need of adjustment.

Benjamin Crump, the Tallahassee civil rights lawyer who represented the Martin family — and who also represented the family in the boot camp case — said this last month in Washington:

"We believe there should be an amendment to the stand your ground law that simply says you cannot be the initial aggressor. You cannot start the confrontation. You cannot pick the fight, and then shoot the person, put your hands in the air and say, 'I was standing my ground.' "

It sounds familiar, this call for thoughtful change in the wake of a death that didn't have to happen.

But then, so do the equally strong voices out there saying this is how we've run things around here for a long time now — and it's just fine with us.

Comments

Tampa forum focuses on reforming Florida’s juvenile justice system

TAMPA — Changing the way Florida treats juvenile offenders was the focus of Monday night’s public forum on criminal justice reform."We send more children to adult prison than any other state," said Raymer Maguire IV, manager of the ACLU’s Florida Cam...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Daystarter: Find out Politifact’s 2017 Lie of the Year; Alabama voters finally go to the polls; and Obamacare enrollment is strong in Florida

Daystarter: Find out Politifact’s 2017 Lie of the Year; Alabama voters finally go to the polls; and Obamacare enrollment is strong in Florida

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.10News WTSPThe latest 7-day forecast• Low temperatures continue this morning but it’ll be pretty nice by the afternoon. It’ll be in the high 40s overnight and then start to rea...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Romano: Come to Madeira Beach for the sand, sun and scorn

Forgive the folks in Madeira Beach for not yet updating the FAQs portion of their website. They’ve been quite busy lately, which might explain why three of the five commissioners listed are no longer in office.Or maybe it’s just a nod to less complic...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Medical field accounts for 7 of 10 highest-paying jobs

Medical field accounts for 7 of 10 highest-paying jobs

The nation’s highest-paying jobs don’t quite track with the fastest-growing jobs in Florida. According to a new study released today by California-based CareerCast, the highest-paying jobs are largely in the medical field and require post-graduate de...
Published: 12/12/17
Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

Party like it’s Christmas in Narnia with these recipes perfect for tea time

As a kid, I always looked for doors into other worlds. I blame Narnia. In C.S. Lewis’ classic novel The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four British children step through a magic wardrobe into Narnia, a world filled with talking animals and plenty ...
Published: 12/12/17
Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

Lions-Buccaneers Turning Point, Week 14: A coach's future hangs in the balance

TAMPA — The season started in August with “Hard Knocks,” packed bleachers at training camp and cheers for coach Dirk Koetter.It ended Sunday with a 24-21 loss to the Lions, a lot of empty seats and chants of “We want Gruden ba...
Updated: 6 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 11

Monday’s scoreboardGirls soccerDixie Hollins 4, Boca Ciega 0Palm Harbor U. 2, Countryside 2Osceola 7, Northeast 0Largo 1, Seminole 0Boys soccerIndian Rocks Chr. 3, Northside Chr. 1Palm Harbor U. 4, Countryside 1...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.The Rockies and Mets joined ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Lottery resultsNumbers drawn after 9 p.m. are no longer available by our deadlines. For results, go to tampabay.com/lottery.Pick 2, 3, 4, 5Mon., Dec. 11, midday:32 251 1266e_SRit91903Mon., Dec. 11, evening:52 400 7181e_SRit23090Fantasy 5Mon., Dec. 11...
Updated: 8 hours ago
HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot Shot winners: Emily Joseph and Devin Cosser

HomeTeam Hot ShotsEmily Joseph, NortheastJoseph, a senior, has been a deadly shooter since her sophomore year. But this season she has added to her game. "She’s gotten physically stronger and has gained confidence," coach Will White said. "She used t...
Updated: 8 hours ago