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"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Monday, November 20, 2006  

Shock and Awe: thoughts on the UCLA taser incident

My friend Vivek is a law student at UCLA and writes at a wonderful blog called Your Good Name. He participated in a protest organized by UCLA students, on the issue of a Persian-American student who was tasered (stunned by a stun gun with 50,000 volts) several times by community police in the university library. And he had this to say about the framing of the protest:
But after attending the protest today at UCLA, where the messaging was around public safety rather than police brutality and race, I realize that we do not have much time. We don’t have time to obfuscate, to skate over the issues that dig deep into us and threaten to rip us all apart.

If we don’t call things as they are - that Mostafa was targeted because he was a Persian male, that he was cuffed and then tazed more than four times because he was a person of color, that the UCPD’s actions have created a climate of fear for people of color all over campus, that ’safety’ as a message only means more cops and no change in accountability - then we all suffer.

We don’t have time to call things otherwise because eventually we all are going to be hit by this. And it will hurt like hell when it happens to us or to someone we love.
Amen. I agree with that. Here's to calling it like it is, for our kids' sake. Good analysis, Vivek.

Now, for some other thoughts on the tasering incident:

[1] I'm so impressed by the actions of the student who was tasered in this incident. I mean, he fell to the ground, limp (in true civil nonviolent disobedience style) when the police wouldn't let go of him. He called the police out on the Patriot Act while they had their tasers pointed at him. He repeatedly explained to the police that he wasn't attacking them. Do you know what a taser does to you? It's 50,000 volts of stun gun. Makes you lose bowel and bladder control in many cases and literally stuns you into paralysis for a few minutes. And all that time, between the taser shots, Mostafa Tabatabainejad was telling the policemen like it was. I don't think I could have been so courageous.

Don't know what i'm talking about? Haven't checked out the YouTube video yet that was shot on a cell phone videocamera? Indymedia has a link to the video here (disturbing) -- [link]. Upon seeing this video, I was shocked (no pun intended) by how brazen the police were, KNOWING very well they had an good sized audience of undergraduate student witnesses (and maybe they even saw the cell phones pointing at them, shooting video). I mean, how do you do this with an audience? How do you not think twice about the brutality of it? I wonder how brutal they would have been if there was NO audience. Can you even imagine? And in the last minute of the video, a police officer tells students to leave and then threatens "or we'll taser you too" after they ask for his badge number. Wait, i thought we at least ACTED like we live in a democracy... (and by the way, how brilliant that that was caught on video)

[3] It made my day to see, on the front page of the LA Times, impassioned students marching with signs taped to their chests saying "I'm Studying, Don't Taser Me". More often than not, the mainstream media picks up an outlier at a rally doing something really weird, to place as their photo representing an event. And if the event even gets a photo or article, it's usually nowhere near page 1. So thanks LA Times for placing the photo and article front and center. Did I just "thank" a newspaper for representing the peoples' voice?

[4] Back in 2004 (so long ago!) there was talk of tasers becoming available to the public for consumer purchase (yes, we're talking negotiations between taser manufacturers and the retail shop The Sharper Image. I wrote a post on this blog, and compared our society to that in Minority Report (Department of PreCrime).

[5] If it was a white boy who was asked to leave the library? He wouldn't be tasered, first of all. And second, if he was tasered, there would be no talk of well...maybe...why didn't he just leave...why cause trouble...maybe he deserved it...well not deserved it...but he was kinda asking for it... maybe he wanted publicity... and all the other twisted arguments I've heard.

[6] I love you cellphone videocameras. And I love you YouTube. There's nothing like you two. You've done so much for documenting and sharing in this world, and you are yet so very, very young.

(cross-posted at Los Anjalis)

posted by Anjali Taneja | 11/20/2006 11:22:00 PM | |


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