Friday, November 17, 2006

UCLA: Police power gone wild

In this story in the UCLA Daily Bruin you can read the sad tale of a student library user grabbed and tasered by police officers for the amazing crime of not identifying himself. Wow. Judge, jury and executioner in the library! Quoting from the article,
"At around 11:30 p.m., CSOs asked a male student using a computer in the back of the room to leave when he was unable to produce a BruinCard during a random check. The student did not exit the building immediately.

The CSOs left, returning minutes later, and police officers arrived to escort the student out. By this time the student had begun to walk toward the door with his backpack when an officer approached him and grabbed his arm, at which point the student told the officer to let him go. A second officer then approached the student as well.

The student began to yell "get off me," repeating himself several times.

It was at this point that the officers shot the student with a Taser for the first time, causing him to fall to the floor and cry out in pain. The student also told the officers he had a medical condition.

UCPD officers confirmed that the man involved in the incident was a student, but did not give a name or any additional information about his identity.

Video shot from a student's camera phone captured the student yelling, "Here's your Patriot Act, here's your fucking abuse of power," while he struggled with the officers.

As the student was screaming, UCPD officers repeatedly told him to stand up and said "stop fighting us." The student did not stand up as the officers requested and they shot him with the Taser at least once more.

"It was the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life," said David Remesnitsky, a 2006 UCLA alumnus who witnessed the incident.

As the student and the officers were struggling, bystanders repeatedly asked the police officers to stop, and at one point officers told the gathered crowd to stand back and threatened to use a Taser on anyone who got too close.
So, not only did the police zap the hell out of the poor student library user, they threatened onlookers who complained about the obvious abuse of police power, the trampling of civil rights- last time I looked, the Constitution is pretty strong on the issue of not being subjected to military force for not having an ID in a fucking library, for yelling "get off me," for not standing up again after they zap you with how-many-fucking-thousand volts of electricity.

But there are a lot more citizens than police. The fact that everybody is carrying a movie camera these days- the cell phone- makes it easy, if you're brave enough to withstand police threats, to document such abuses. Here is the link to the Youtube posting. As I've said before, true police will be shocked at this behavior. True police work to help us, protect us, not kick us around.

This is the second recent incident where people started crying stormtrooper, or gestapo, at military-style police tactics used in civilian settings, and got hauled off, humiliated, terrified, and not charged with a crime. Here in Tucson, an artfest hosted by a lovely Tucson sculptor at a guest ranch in the desert was raided by insane-acting sheriffs deputies. The incident was covered by the local Weekly, treated with kid-gloves in the major daily. Last I heard the deputy who was frothing at the mouth at the gathering of artists, families, senior citizens and aging blues-rock musicians was in deep trouble over his actions and demeanor.

The point is police are supposed to serve us, not define us as instant threats whenever we don't show ID, question them, or gather at a peaceful arts-fest. It's up to us to remind the government that police serve us, not the government.

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