Martin Hyde is a Florida Republican politician and businessman who dropped out of the race for the Sarasota City Commission after he was accused of making racist statements while confronting a teen Puerto Rican tennis player at a club. Video of part of the confrontation was posted online and led to the 54-year-old Hyde being banned from the tennis club, where his son was receiving lessons, Latino Rebels reports.
The incident occurred on Tuesday, November 26, at Sarasota’s Bath & Racquet Club, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports. Video of the incident involving Hyde and Sergio Dilan, a junior tennis player who was at the Sarasota club for a tournament, was posted to Facebook by Alvin R Couto de Jesus on Friday.
According to Dilan and Cuoto de Jesus, Hyde yelled at Dilan for speaking Spanish and told him to leave the club. The original confrontation was not recorded on video. He is also accused of telling Dilan and other Hispanic teen boys to “go cut the grass.” Hyde appeared to admit using that phrase on the video, but he has since denied it. He has also denied being racist.
Michael Brandon, the manager of the tennis club, told Latino Rebels, “I am super disturbed at seeing that video. I was actually the coach that was on the court. I knew that there was some type of incident but had no idea to what degree this actually went down. After watching the video, the member is going to be removed this afternoon so I’m going to be notifying him that he’s no longer a member of the club. Bath and Racquet definitely or any of the staff here does not stand for racism whatsoever or any type of actions like that at all, especially towards children or obviously anyone. He will be removed from the club this afternoon, and thank you for reaching out. We’re so sorry that happened but we have rectified the situation.”
Hyde was running for the District 2 Sarasota City Commission seat held by Commissioner Liz Alpert, a Democrat.
Here’s what you need to know about Martin Hyde:
1. Martin Hyde Says He ‘Didn’t Say Anything That’s Racist,’ but Says He Is Dropping Out of the City Commission Race Because Staying in Would ‘Do More Harm Than Good’
The incident occurred at the Sarasota Bath & Racquet Club while Martin Hyde was there as his son received a tennis lesson. Hyde is accused of racism in an incident with Puerto Rican tennis player Sergio Dilan, who was at the club for the Casely International Championship. Hyde told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that a group of young tennis players were being loud near a court where his son and his son’s friend were receiving a lesson. Hyde said he confronted them after they did not listen to an instructor who asked them to quiet down.
“I came over and said ‘He asked you nicely, and I’m telling you now to shut the hell up.’ That was the extent of it,” Hyde told the newspaper. “Look, I was rude and, yeah, it’s not appropriate. … I didn’t say anything that’s racist. There’s absolutely no evidence or truth whatsoever.”
The video starts with Hyde telling a boy filming to “keep his mouth shut.” The boy tells Hyde that he is going to call the police and says, “that’s racism.” Hyde encourages him to call the police and says that he knows the police chief.
“That’s racism man,” the boy says. “How can you say something like that? Aren’t you human?” Hyde then tells him, “this is a private club, get out,” as Hyde stands up and walks toward him. The teen says, “I’m getting out, I’m getting out,” in a scared tone as Hyde stalks him down, telling him he will never be let back in. Hyde continues chasing the tennis player yelling at him to get out. The frustrated teen then says, “that’s racism,” again and a woman says, “I know, I know.”
Hyde then tells the woman that he is a member of the club and the kids aren’t, so he wants them removed. The Puerto Rican player, Dilan, then says, “You told me to cut grass because I’m Hispanic.” Hyde replies, “yes, so what?”
Hyde tells a woman who works at the club the boys look “agitated” and says, “I don’t know what drugs they’re on.”
Hyde told the Herald-Tribune he did not say, “yes, so what,” about the “cut grass” comment, but instead about another comment saying he was being rude. “I was replying to a previous comment,” Hyde told the newspaper.
Hyde, denied being a racist but said he was dropping out of the commissioner race, telling the Herald-Tribune, “I hold myself to a higher standard though than engaging with noisy teenagers in public places, and it for this failing and this alone that I’ve decided to stand down from public life. I strongly resent the false assertion that I am (racist) based as it is on an at best inconclusive cellphone video.”
He added, “A part of me thinks I should stay on and fight to clear my name in the face of falsehoods, but I believe that if I did the scrutiny and defamation would simply increase and that wouldn’t be fair to those close to me that I care about. … At this stage I’m doing more harm to my causes than good by hanging on. Therefore I’m going to walk away and ask only that the media respects my privacy going forward.”
2. Hyde, Who Once Confronted Sarasota’s Former Mayor & Called Her Nasty at a Polling Place, Was Fined $1,500 for Election Law Violations in August 2019
Martin Hyde is no stranger to controversy. In 2017, during a failed bid for the Sarasota City Commission, he got into an argument with former Sarasota mayor Mollie Caradmone at a polling place, according to the Sarasota Observer. Hyde called Cardamone “nasty,” and accused her of libeling him, the news site reported.
The Observer’s Alex Mahadevan wrote, “The confrontation between candidate Martin Hyde and former Mayor Mollie Cardamone came as she finished voting, and ended after her husband Ronald told Hyde not to speak with her again. After the incident, Hyde accused Cardamone of spreading inaccuracies about him to influence the election, while Cardamone — a supporter of candidate Jen Ahearn-Koch — said the exchange was indicative of questions about his temperament.”
In August 2019, Hyde and the Sarasota GOP were ordered to pay fines for election law violations, according to the Palm Beach Post. Hyde and the local Republican party settled two of several complaints against them, while the Florida Elections Commission determined another case would continue on.
Hyde was accused out scheming to get around the prohibition on partisan campaigning for the nonpartisan Sarasota city elections by moving money from Hyde to a PAC, which paid for a mailer saying the Republican party backed Hyde during his failed 2017 run for office. Hyde was ordered to pay $1,500 and the Sarasota GOP was ordered to pay $2,000.
“There was no malice or intent,” Hyde told the Palm Beach Post. “It was a mistake, and I accept responsibility.”
3. Hyde Is a Longtime Political Gadfly in Sarasota & Was Running a Campaign That Included Being Against Making Sarasota a ‘Sanctuary City’
Martin Hyde is a longtime political gadfly in Sarasota, often appearing before the city commission, school board and at other government functions and political events to speak out about his beliefs. His YouTube channel shows several videos of Hyde speaking on local TV and at commission meetings.
On his campaign website, Hyde wrote, “Martin has been proactive in city matters, keeping a close watch on the city commission as they address issues that affect our everyday lives. After coming up just short in his past campaign for a seat on the commission, Martin is back and more determined than ever to fight city corruption and help retain the charm of the city we love so much.”
During the 2017 race, Hyde made immigration issues a key part of his campaign and his attacks on his opponent, despite it not being a major issue in the past. Hyde said his opponent wanted to make Sarasota a sanctuary city, something he opposed.
Hyde drew some comparisons to President Donald Trump during his 2017 campaign. He told Sarasota Underground he wasn’t trying to be like the Republican president.
“I think it’s kind of a modern term for somebody that’s non establishment, I guess, potentially, somebody that’s rude, I get that, and I have been on occasion and sometimes deliberately and sometimes inadvertently. People have mentioned it to me and I take that on board, and I’m trying. I wrote a little list down here, not because it’s contrite, but because I wanted to just lay out in specific terms, some things that I’d like to try to do that are positive,” Hyde told Sarasota Underground.
4. He Briefly Played Professional Soccer in the UK Before Moving to Sarasota, Where He Became a Business Owner & Father of 4
Hyde is British and moved to the Sarasota area more than 20 years ago. According to his campaign website, Hyde briefly played professional soccer in his native United Kingdom. He played as a goalkeeper for Brighton and Hove Albion from 1982 to 1983 and for Southhampton F.C. from 1983 to 1984.
Hyde attended St. Joseph’s College in London and was a sales manager and managing director at Copyforce Limited in London from 1984 to 1999, when he moved to Sarasota. In Florida, Hyde became the owner of Gulf Business Systems.
According to its website, Gulf Business Systems, “is a full service provider of a wide variety of document solutions. We carry MFPs, Copiers, Printers, Scanners, Wide-Format Printers, Business Apps, and industry specific solutions.”
Hyde is the father of four sons. His youngest son is in elementary school, while his oldest son is a sheriff’s deputy in Sarasota, according to his campaign website.
5. Hyde Was Accused of Threatening His Ex-Wife During Their Divorce & She Filed for a Domestic Violence Protection Order Saying There Was a History of ‘Physical, Emotional & Psychological Abuse,’ Court Records Show
During his 2017 run for office, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported on court documents from his divorce, including accusations from his ex-wife that he had threatened her and that she sought a domestic violence protection order saying there was a history of “physical, emotional and psychological abuse.”
“Documents filed during Hyde’s lengthy 2010 divorce reveal accusations, later dropped, that he threatened his ex-wife, and police reports detail heated exchanges with officers during traffic incidents,” reporter Zach Murdock wrote. “Despite the accounts, Hyde has never been charged, investigated or arrested. Allegations about his threatening behavior during his divorce were included in a request for an injunction, which was turned down by one judge, and a separate motion for contempt, which was withdrawn later, records show.”
Hyde denied any wrongdoing. He told the newspaper, “I’ve not put my hands on anyone; I’ve never been arrested; I’ve never missed a bill. I might not be the most polite person you’ve ever met in your life, but that’s a long, long way from putting your hands on people.