Sunday, September 23, 2007

Don't Tase Me Bro

I've heard from a number of people on the subject of Andrew Meyer and the tasing incident at the University of Florida. Some people share my view on the matter or a portion there of and some don't and thats cool. It is impossible for any of us to have all of the facts and I understand that. The problem is that those who deem the police action acceptable need to realize it also. We weren't there and as such can only formulate our opinions base on what we hear and see or by what is reported. So what may or may not have transpired before or after the actual tasing is merely speculative. I can only go by what I saw on the video and discuss my thoughts about what I saw. People are more willing to speculate on the kids motivation than taking the video at face value. It is clear from the video that the guy was not violent. He didn't aggressively rush the podium like the French storming the Bastille. The guy was asking questions of an elected official during a public forum, sponsored by a public university that the kid attends. Seriously, quality of the questions aside, what right do the police have in physically accosting the kid? He did not break any law, he was not acting violent or menecing and at the time he was grabbed by the police, he had not been charged with a crime. Certainly you understand the implication? Tasers are to be used when an officer feels that he or she is in imminent danger and a gun would be considered excessive force. Watch the Meyer video and tell me which officer felt that he or she was in imminent physical peril? You had six officers verses one mouthy journalism student. I can certainly see the need for the additional firepower. The video shows that at the time of the tasing, Meyer was physically restrained and was not a threat to anyone. People say the kid was an idiot. That he could have shut up and he wouldn't have gotten tased. So we should just shut up when our constitutional rights are violated? We should be fearful of physical abuse if we are non-compliant and non-violent in the face of intimidation? Bull Shit.

Do you think that this is an isolated incident? How about the case of Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student who was repeatedly stunned with a taser and taken into custody because he did not exit the campus library in a timely manner. It seems as though the campus police or community service officers as they like to call themselves asked Tabatabinejad to produce his campus ID during a "routine" identity check of people in the library. Apparently Mr. Tabatabainejad did not produce ID because as an Iranian-American, he was outraged by the thought of being racially profiled (as no one else in the library was asked to produce ID). Regardless, he was stunned several times with a taser, each time for three to five seconds, with the police continuing to tase him even though he was restrained and in handcuffs. Tased while in handcuffs? Are you kidding me? The guy was tased for not showing his ID at a library and that is OK? I know what your thinking...if he would have just shut up? Or perhaps he should have realized that as a person of Iranian descent he must expect to be scrutinized by the police at a campus library at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night. He had it coming right?

Go to and ask yourself if this is acceptable to you? What if it was you? Now I realize that in situations like this, when you are looking at video, it doesn't always show the full picture. But I also know that in the few minutes that we can watch, it is obviously an unacceptable, excessive and illegal amount of force to use on someone being escorted out of a building or an event because they asked goofy questions at a public forum or refused to show their library card.

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