I’d like to pause a moment and send thoughts and prayers to the family of Martin Lee Anderson, a 14 year old boy who was filmed being kicked and beaten over a half an hour period by the guards at the “boot camp ” where he was held. Martin died. A camp nurse observed the proceedings while they took place and the camp’s security camera caught it on film. Martin died. The guards and the nurse walked free. Martin is not walking anywhere anymore. Apparently Martin had a form of sickle-cell anaemia that had not been known about. Perhaps if the guards had known they would have beaten him more gently.
The boy is dead, the family handed a bill for medical expenses and the fault apparently lies with the boy’s genetic time-bomb. The guards and the nurse have not even received disciplinary measures – which would still be unbelievably patronizing to the family – but even that would somehow be something. The family’s lawyer says “You kill a dog, you go to jail. You kill a little black boy and nothing happens.”
I’m sure Martin Lee Anderson was a very difficult child – one doesn’t end up in a boot camp for nothing…. yet…. can any of us with very difficult children imagine our beloveds winding up in a boot camp? And even, with a really generous stretch of the imagination, we can imagine our children had to go to one of these places – would we find it acceptable for him to have been beaten and abused in this way? Murdered? Can we imagine into the pain of those parents, that family? Would we accept an excuse – “oh sorry, your child had something wrong with him so he died when we beat him. He would have just been beaten and lived through it otherwise.” Just think of all the care we take with our own difficult children – didn’t Martin deserve the same care and attention? But Martin was black, male and poor – three strikes in a society that fears such a combination. And add in any behavioral or learning challenges that he might have had…. well, now he’s dead.
Posted on October 13, 2007 in Children and Society