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Archive for Saturday, April 22, 2006

Furor grows over boot camp death

April 22, 2006

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— Gov. Jeb Bush is facing a rapidly growing furor over the death of a 14-year-old boy at a juvenile boot camp, with about 1,500 demonstrators accusing authorities Friday of a cover-up, and Florida's chief law enforcement officer resigning under fire.

The student protesters, led by the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, demanded answers regarding the death in January of Martin Lee Anderson, who was punched and kicked by guards in a videotaped scuffle.

The protesters assembled on the Capitol steps, chanting "Justice delayed is justice denied" and "If you don't act, we will come back." They demanded the arrest of the guards and the release of the results of a second autopsy.

Martin was the third young black male to die in state custody in Florida in the past three years. The guards who hit him were black and white.

A first autopsy found he died from complications of a blood disorder, but the boy's family and others disputed that. Martin's remains were exhumed recently for another autopsy. Bush also has appointed a special prosecutor.

Friday's protest came a day after Guy Tunnell, commissioner of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, resigned amid criticism about his handling of the case and a joke that the governor called "inappropriate."

The Miami Herald reported that at a meeting of department heads, Tunnell likened Sen. Barack Obama to Osama bin Laden and Jackson to the outlaw Jesse James.

Tunnell started the Panama City boot camp when he was Bay County's sheriff. His agency was investigating the death until it was taken off the case by the special prosecutor. During the investigation, Tunnell had forwarded e-mails to the current sheriff that criticized those who questioned the effectiveness of the boot camp concept.

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