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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: U.S. | Education & Student Activism | Police State and Prisons
Taser incident threatens campus culture
University of Florida police used a stun gun on UF student Andrew Meyer in the middle of an auditorium full of students and faculty Monday during a campus forum with U.S. Sen. John Kerry. Within hours, multiple videos of the incident taken by quick-thinking students were viewable on the Internet, allowing this issue national exposure and, hopefully, scrutiny.
While neither exceeding his time allotment nor ignoring line protocol, both of which Meyer seems to have done, are appropriate or respectful actions at a lecture event, his transgressions clearly pale in comparison to those of the officers.
It is clear from the video that the police escalated the nature of the conflict by forcibly grabbing a non-physically threatening Meyer as they attempted to remove him from the auditorium. His resistance was completely understandable. By the time the officers used the stun gun on him, Meyer was pinned to the ground and clearly outmanned.
Meyer was arrested for resisting an officer and disturbing the peace, giving police a more palatable way to describe Tasering a student for over-questioning a senator.
The apparent passivity of both the audience and the senator, who has since condemned the police action, in the video is unnerving, though it is undoubtedly difficult to speak up when the individuals sworn to uphold your right to do so threaten you with stun guns.
Unfortunately, this is not a revelatory incident. A student was similarly Tasered with little provocation at UCLA last year. As university students, we must not let ourselves be rendered speechless by these abuses of power. Universities, especially, should be places that foster spirited civic engagement and freedom of speech.
The officers involved must be relieved of their posts. Their presence on a university campus undermines the very purpose of institutions of higher education.