Sep 18, 2007

Unbelievable : Florida Student Tasered, Arrested at John Kerry Forum

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I was disturbed to read about University of Florida student Andrew Meyer, 21, who was Tasered and arrested yesterday after trying to ask questions of U.S. Senator John Kerry during a campus forum.

Meyer was charged with disrupting a public event and placed in the Alachua County jail. He has a hearing this morning before the county court.

Kerry can be heard saying: "That's alright, let me answer his question," before UF police began to drag away Meyer. Members of the audience began clapping as Meyer left; it is unclear if they were clapping because he was dragged away, or if they approved of his questions.

Videos of the incident posted on the Internet show officers pulling Meyer away from the microphone after he asks Kerry about impeaching President George W. Bush and whether he and Bush were both members of the secret society Skull and Bones. Here is one clip, which has been uploaded to YouTube.com:



While Meyer was clearly emotional during his questions and as he began to be led away, I think the police officers escalated this incident. Early on, as Meyer began to talk on the microphone, the officers were already beginning to put their hands on him.

Tasering a student after expressing his political opinions is simply madness, and it is clear during the video that Meyer had agreed to leave the room if the police would have taken their hands from him. When Meyer mentioned the words "Skull and Bones," the police began to restrain him and drag him away. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, or perhaps the Skull and Bones set needs to update its budgeting software.

At no point did I see Meyer engage in any behavior that could be construed as a threat to the police. I trust that university officials will discipline these officers accordingly, as this is indeed a dark day for American academia.

17 comments:

microdot said...

I just read that Kerry officially condemned the incident. He seems to be powerless to stop the action during the video, but he should have just screamed STOP! He was the only one who could have intervened.
You have to ask why?

Historychic said...

Not that I am defending the actions of the police officers (because how they handled the incident was completely wrong), but if you heard the entire story, the student had been asking Kerry question after question and was not allowing others to ask their questions at the forum. However, this is according to what I heard on the news this morning, so the news could be wrong and therefore I could be wrong about the situation.

MP said...

Unbelievable? Check. Madness? Check.

Florida?

Yeah...there's a reason that Florida gets its own tag on Fark.

historymike said...

Microdot:

Good point. If Kerry had waded into the crowd, he could have defused the situation.

Of course, if the police hadn't been so quick to escalate, or if one of them had taken charge and calmed Meyer down, none of this would have happened.

historymike said...

Historychic:

There are quite a few videos with different angles and of different durations. Meyer clearly was being a pain in the ass, but at no time did he pose a physical threat.

The female officer began the physical altercation when Meyer was still calm, during his "permitted" time on the microphone. She grabbed his arm, and he turned to her and was a bit sarcastic, but maintained his composure.

Watch the guy in the suit, though. The police officers seem to be following his lead. I wonder if he is a university bigwig who is tired of Meyer, or if he is part of the UF police force.

historymike said...

(laughing, hollowly, at mp)

Salon.com has a good article on similar Taser incidents at US colleges.

kooz said...

First of all, I think these appearences by politicians on college universities are ridiculous. Both party's only go to schools where they think they'll be preaching to the choir, then, when someone opposes them, they get all bent out of shape.

Second, there is a difference between asking tough opposing questions and just disrupting the event for everyone. Yes, he should have been tased. If he would have hurt someone, then everyone would be complaining that the police didn't do anything.

Billy Pilgrim said...

Mike, as you are well aware, I condemn all acts of police barbarism, especially those perpetrated against American youth. But I must politely disagree with your close reading of the video; a mere hand on Meyer's arm can't possibly be interpreted as 'escalating' the situation; after all, he appeared volatile and hell-bent on causing an uncomfortable scene for all in attendance. From where I sit, it was a mere gesture to lead Meyer away quietly, which was met with his loud shouting and apparent desire to disrupt things, or even possibly become a local martyr for his harsh grilling of Kerry.

Do I think the subsequent restraining and tasering was appropriate? Absolutely not. But I think this mess (and its video) are more complicated than just 'cops are dicks to college kids.' Crowds at political gatherings have rights too, and one of those rights is to not have one jackass derail the entire ocassion for his own ulterior motives.

But then again, this is all coming from a guy who was drunk from 1968-2004, so what the hell do I know.
I'm off to write an article on Frankie Muniz.

ollie said...

There is more going on that the video shows.

This person actually rushed the microphone while someone else was talking (there was a long line for questions and others were waiting)

This person was dragged away and warned prior to being tasered; all he had to do was to cooperate at that time.

You might check on this person's background; I've read (but haven't verified) that this person goes to rallies to draw attention to himself and to confront police.

Mr. Schwartz said...

I can see this both ways. The student was physically resisting and the police had to use force to protect themselves and others nearby.

However, tasering him was not needed and I could swear they did it after he was hand cuffed. If that is the case, that's damnable.

Tina K said...

Everyone already knows who was a member of Skull and Bones. Who cares?

What a reporter from the the university newspaper said on the report I saw today that the kid maintains a conspiracy theory web site about the government, ect. Sounds like he may have does it on purpose.

microdot said...

Nah, I looked at a number of videos and read about this guys background and nothing, absolutely nothing I have seen leads me to believe that the cops actions were warranted.
In fact in reading about this I have come across statistics and incidents of the rising use of tasers by police to handle any situation rather than with reason.
Perhaps we've become inured to the pain of others and have watched too many reality videos of jackasss celebs like LaToya Jackson getting tasered to feel too deeply about this.
Instead of applauding the cops actions, I think they should be suspended and held to account.

Here. I vanish for about 2 weeks into the grape vines for the harvest. Late this year because of the weather....I will have pics up on the brain police when I get back!

Mr. Schwartz said...

The police said in their report that after the cameras were turned off, the college student acted quite normal and calm. When he thought the cameras were back on, he acted up again.

I got a chance to see another video and they did taser him before he was handcuffed but he was also under their control physically. The tasering was not justified in my opinion. However, the cops up to that point did nothing wrong.

Mad Jack said...

Meyer didn't instantly obey the orders of the Police. What does anyone expect to happen? You really think the police will use any other kind of restraint while they are on camera? Meyer is lucky that the police didn't take him out back and beat him half to death.

I have a very low opinion of police. There are a few good ones, but these are in the minority. That said, I don't really blame the police too much for using a Taser on Meyer.

The Taser is described as a non-lethal weapon, and is probably less lethal than the baton (tonfa) or pepper spray. It's only a small leap to establishing the policy that use of a Taser is a safe and acceptable alternative to the baton or to unarmed physical restraint. Using a Taser on an unwilling malcontent is certainly easier on the police - they'd be the ones doing the Tasing, generally speaking.

My point? Imagine you're a policeman and you have to restrain this law breaker. You and your cop buddies can wrestle with him and risk injury, like an accidental knee to the berries, or you can zap him with Old Sparky a time or two and slap the cuffs on him while he's recovering. He'll probably get into less mischief after he's been Tased than if you'd just wrestled him to the ground and sat on him.

The Screaming Nutcase said...

The Taser seems to have become the one-size-fits-all police tool: when someone won't do what you want, just Taser him! (Like the Pittsburgh suburb cops who tasered someone who was passed out drunk in his own home--did they really need to Taser an unconscious person for their own safety?) Back in the days of pepper spray, a cop who sprayed a suspect would have to put up with that smell in the cruiser, so cops were a little more judicious in using a potentially harmful method on citizens, which actually caused them to develop all sorts of people-handling skills.

I just read a journal article report of a Taser dart penetrating a teenager's skull. There have already been reports of the darts going through eyes, and other important structures. (I won't mention the deaths, because I believe very few if any of them were caused by the Taser per se; the 100k+ police officers who have been Tasered without a single death can attest to that.)

JQ said...

When one is getting arrested it is best for that person to acquiesce to police demands. If at the time of arrest you feel wrongly accused then fight the battle the good old fashion bureaucratic way, hire a good lawyer.
This guy may have had a right to say what he wanted, and the right to act like a Jackass, but the police have the responsibility to not allow him to infringe upon others.
Use of the taser maybe misconstrued by some as being too harsh, but the guy clearly would not relax.
If only cooler heads would have prevailed.

Dariush said...

So disappointing to see so many intelligent people who believe in the inherent righteousness of state authority & state violence -- even if such authority is as low on the totem pole as a half dozen campus pigs.

A couple of eloquent and cogent responses to this kind of authoritarianism.

Kurt Nimmo - "Corporate Media Makes Light of Meyer Tasering"

William Norman Grigg - "The Kitty Genovese Effect: How The Regime Endures"