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Martin Hyde
Sarasota Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019 1 week ago

UPDATE: Hyde reconsiders commission candidacy after tennis club altercation

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In a video posted online, Hispanic teenage tennis players accused Martin Hyde of making a racist comment toward them, an accusation he strongly denied.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

Update: After initially announcing his intent to withdraw as a City Commission candidate, Martin Hyde said he will consider remaining in the race for the District 2 seat on the board.

In an email sent to city officials Sunday, Hyde said he is rescinding his decision to remove himself as a candidate as he considers his future plans.

“I’ll keep you appraised of any final decisions, but I’m persuaded for now that my resignation was too precipitous,” Hyde said.

Previously: A video of a confrontation at the Bath and Racquet Club in which two Hispanic teenagers accuse resident Martin Hyde of making a racist comment toward them has led to Hyde’s withdrawal from the 2020 Sarasota City Commission race, though Hyde denied the accusations of racism.

In an email sent to city officials this morning, Hyde said he would not return to City Hall in any capacity going forward.

“I had already been considering in recent months whether my involvement was a good thing for me and those around me, as my manner (or lack of manners) has tended to obviate any value from my comments,” Hyde said in the email.

The video of the altercation, posted online by Alvin Couto de Jesús, shows Hyde attempting to have at least two people removed from the Bath and Racquet Club as they accuse him of making racist remarks. The post identifies one of the individuals as a Puerto Rican tennis player at the facility for a tournament and states he was removed for speaking Spanish.

In an interview Friday, Hyde denied the accusations and said the video does not include any footage of the alleged racist statement. Hyde said he confronted the individuals for making noise during his son’s tennis lesson.

“This is three punk kids that were at a tournament causing an annoyance,” Hyde said. “They got thrown out, not me. They were causing a disturbance.”

Asked about a segment of the video in which Hyde says “Yes. So what?” shortly after one of the people involved says Hyde told them to “cut some grass,“ Hyde said his response was a reply to something else, not an admission regarding the alleged racist comment.

A relative of one of the individuals involved could not immediately be reached for comment.

In an emailed statement, Hyde reiterated his denial of the accusations of racism but expressed regret for getting into the confrontation.

“It is impossible to ‘unring a bell’ or to prove to people that want to believe a narrative that it is untrue,” Hyde said in the statement. “I hold myself to a higher standard, though, than engaging with noisy teenagers in public places, and it [is] for this failing and this alone that I've decided to stand down from public life.”

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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