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Taser incident threatens campus culture

by reposted
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.
by more
By now you've likely seen the above video of University of Florida cops subduing 21-year-old Andrew Meyer with a Taser after the student asked Sen. John Kerry a few niggling questions (War Room has Kerry's response). Astute followers of YouTube know this wasn't the first time campus cops have been captured getting Taser-happy. Below, I've compiled previous clips of such incidents.

Don't university cops have YouTube, too? These people work in the most visible environments in the world, where every witness has both a cellphone cam and a broadband connection and knows how to use them. You'd suppose that after just one of these well-publicized incidents, every campus P.D. in the nation would decide that whatever advantage there might be in using the Taser, the inevitable fallout is too much.

I called up the University of Florida Police Department to ask about its Taser policies; I'm waiting for a callback.

In the aftermath of the Taser incident at UCLA last fall -- when a student named Mostafa Tabatabainejad was stunned multiple times after he refused to show his I.D. card at a campus library -- the university asked the independent Police Assessment Resource Center to investigate.

PARC concluded: "While the student should have simply obeyed the order to produce the card, and by not doing so brought trouble upon himself, the police response was substantially out of proportion to the provocation. There were many ways in which the UCLAPD officers involved could have handled this incident competently, professionally, and with minimal force."

The group also criticized UCLA's Taser policies as "unduly permissive, giving the police unnecessary latitude, and are inconsistent with the policies of other universities and leading police departments across the country, including other University of California campuses, the LAPD, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD)." (The PDF of the report can be found here.)

Police at UCLA stunned Tabatabainejad using the device's "drive stun" mode, and in the video it seems that Florida campus cops used the same mode on Meyer.

In typical Taser operation, the gun shoots out electrode darts at a target. The darts incapacitate the target. Drive stun mode, on the other hand, is meant for close contact. There are no shooting electrodes -- the gun is placed directly on a target's skin. Drive stun does not incapacitate a target. He merely feels a great deal of pain that officers hope will induce compliance.

(AGI) - Miami (Florida), Sept. 18 - A man was hit with an electric pistol because he asked too much insisting and embarrassing questions to senator John Kerry, the former Democratic candidate to 2004 presidential election. The hit man is a journalism student, Andrew Meyer. The incident happened during a forum at the Florida university in Miami today.
According to the Miami Herald web site, Meyer was provisionally arrested by some policemen who immobilised him with a 'taser' electric pistol. He was stunned with electroshock. The piece of news was published on the web and the video of the arrest was largely publicised by the student, aged 21, a few hours after his arrest. In the images we can see the young man with a microphone in his hand who asks a lot of questions to Kerry.
Some questions were embarrassing: he was asked why he granted victory to George Bush without resisting in the last elections, and why he did not propose the impeachment of the president. He also asked if Kerry was a member of the powerful society of 'Skull and Bones' of Yale, of which Bush was a member too.
While Meyer was speaking to police agents neared to him and invited him to go away. He did not go away so other two policemen intervened and took him away while he cried: "What Have I done?". The young man was thrown on the floor in the back of the room and a policeman cried him not to resist to police. When the young man protested another policeman fired against him two darts of the electric pistol that paralysed him. Meyer is in prison from Monday he is charged with resisting to a policeman and interruption of a meeting. This story will ignite new rows on the use of 'taser' that is part of normal police equipment in many US states. This arm launches two darts linked with two small electric threads to the pistol that emits an high voltage and low amperage electric discharge.
This arm is normally not lethal but it killed hit people in over 150 cases as denounced by Amnesty International recently.
The organization asked the withdrawal of this arm.
The tactics of police in Florida who Tasered a cheeky student as he tried to question former presidential candidate Senator John Kerry have been called into question after a video of the incident was posted on the internet.

The officers responsible have been suspended on full pay while the debate rages over whether the student was a victim of police brutality or an attention-seeking prankster who got what he deserved.

The student, Andrew Meyer, who was well-known on campus for his practical jokes, was Tasered after jumping the queue to ask Mr Kerry a series of questions in a Florida University lecture hall on Monday.

Event organisers were unhappy with his line of questioning and switched off the microphone as police officers moved in to escort him out of the hall.

by Richard Neige, Media Watcher
National Public Radio in their MORNING EDITION coverage of the Uof F Taser incident failed to mention Meyer holding up Greg Palast's book, or the question about Kerry's failure to resist the stolen election of 2004 or Impeachment but
only mentioned the more politically safe SKULL AND BONES question.

These are apparently too hot to handle for NPR.
by Green
Gatorade has decided that the problem at UF should once again be resolved by their science institute.
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