Friday, November 17, 2006

Abuse of Power?

I put a question mark in the title since I'm still not sure what to make of this.

If you have the wherewithal, watch this video:

If you haven't heard of it yet, it's video of a UCLA student getting tasered at Powell Library after refusing to show ID afterhours. I usually don't pay too much attention to stories about excessive force, but in this case, it's UCLA...I've walked around Powell and I can, more than usual, place myself in the shoes of each person there.

So back to me not knowing what to make of this. From this video, it's hard to argue that the UCPD over-reacted and were wrong in expecting the guy to get up after being tasered. What I can't understand is how it got to this situation. Like most security guards, UCPD is usually pretty cool. By the name, you can guess that they are actual cops and much more than just security guards, but on campus, they're far from menacing and are usually there to help out. So I'm just perplexed as to how it turned from a request to show ID, to the video you see.


The only judgement I'm going to pass right now is that the UCPD was idiots for thinking this guy could physically get up on command after being tasered. If he was being non-cooperative before or after the tasering, they should have just picked his ass up and carried him into their cruiser. End of story.

I'll guess that the guy was probably being somewhat beligerant/non-cooperative when asked to show ID. Obviously nothing he could have done in a library situation should ever lead to something like this, but I've gotta assume there was something amiss about the situation which required mutliple UCPD to show up.

I'll also guess that the UCPD guys were in over their heads and were scared of causing an even bigger situation what with the dozens of students hovering over them. Apparently one of them threatened a student who was asking for a badge number, etc. That had to have been in the heat of the moment.

Thank god they didn't go midevil on any other students. That would have spiralled into something insane.

Thank god the other students didn't cause a physical ruckus. That would have mean serious harm to all involved.

I can't imagine how tense it must be on campus right now. I don't think too much about my UCLA days any more, but watching this, having walked those same steps, forces me to really think about the excessive use of force and what could have lead to this.

I'll be watching this story closely.

UPDATE: So it looks like the student who was tasered will be filing a civil suit against UCPD. Not surprising as well he should do that considering what nonsense the cops put him through. Not sure of how the legal system works on this, but at first blush, I would assume that a potential criminal proceeding should occur first, then the civil portion comes next. Anyways, what I find fishy about this is the lawyer he hired has said that Tabatabainejad refused to show ID because he thought he was being racially profiled and picked out for looking Middle Eastern.

That seems like playing the race card and it really annoys me. Having been at UCLA for 5 years, I would honestly call out BS on that. Why? Because it's such a diverse campus. Because you see just as many Persians on campus as other races. If that sounds racist, sorry...but it's fact. I find it difficult to believe that a CSO would decide to pick on this guy because he looks Middle Eastern. If that's the case, I wouldn't be surprised if he had 10 other Middle Eastern people to pick from. Sounds like the lawyer is just trying to get some leverage here.

And the other interesting thing the lawyer said is that when the cop didn't take his hands off Tabatabainejad he went limp. Now, there's certainly nothing wrong with that and in fact it's a perfect example of non-violent protest. But it just seems kind of dumb to bait cops like that. I mean, if you've got a cause or purpose, then yeah, go limp, but in this situation it just contributes to an ever-more tense spiral. Just seems ill-advised. The idea behind non-violent protest is, at some level, to make the opposing party think about their actions and potentially change them. The UCPD obviously weren't having any of that at midnight in a library and took alarming actions...but seriously just leave well enough alone and walk away.

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