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November 17, 2006

Still Proud To Be A Bruin?

The video begins in the study room of UCLA's Powell Library, a beautiful, ornate sanctuary that I inhabited as often as possible. The library looked how a library should look: Imposing, serious, grave, and somewhat holy. And in response, all of us who entered it became slightly hushed, felt an inch more intellectual, became a bit more serious in our academic purpose. Which makes it all the more jarring to hear the screaming, the yelling, the pleas for peace as a student who refuses to produce a Bruin ID card is tasered again and again and again; shrieking in pain and defiance each time.

I'm not at UCLA anymore. I wish I was. Because buildings should be occupied until there's a response to this. Classes should be disrupted, disobedience constant, the student body lit with fury. This can't happen. And every student, and every person, should be outraged that it did. Try and stomach the video, if you can. It's important to see. This is what police brutality looks like. And if this is what it looks like committed against affluent kids on a college campus packed with eyewitnesses, imagine what happens to those lacking such institutional, economic, and situational protections.



Update: And Jesus Christ Daily Bruin, show some fucking guts. If you're going to publish an incoherent weasel like David Lazar on your pages, at least lace your official editorial with some passion and outrage.

November 17, 2006 | Permalink

Comments

Ezra,

As much as you yearn for the time when rightous mob rule was the response, it just ain't gonna happen. This guy is an idiot. You don't fight the police at the scene, you fight them in court. That's why God made lawyers.

I'm sympathetic, but not on board. He aggravated the situation many, many times.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 17, 2006 10:57:14 AM

The repeated demands from the police for the student to 'stand up' (when it is well known that tazers make muscular freezing commonplace) accompanied with repeated threats (and more tazer actions) to continue the tazers if they are not OBEYED is what freaks me out.

A female student said that when she asked for an officer's name and badge number, she was threatened with tazering too. In my mind, any officer that hides his identity/badge number during a official action should be immediately fired on the presumption that he/she had guilty knowledge that what they were doing is beyond the rules.

Yes, this incident is off-the-wall outrageous. I have no doubt in my mind that the officers were acting out their hatred of anyone from the mideast.

Suspensions of the officers would be inadequate. They must be fired and have their asses sued off in civil court.

My choice of punishment: anyone authorized to carry a tazer should be aware that if they abuse that tool, that they will have their genitals tazered once for every tazer shock applied inappropriately on others - in public.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 17, 2006 11:01:10 AM

That David Lazar! What a pistol! Did you notice at the bottom of his article wherein he sends out a call for his fans to send their best Rodney King jokes to his email? I figure it won't be long till he's matching wits with KLo and Jonah and the Corner gang.

"And if this is what it looks like committed against affluent kids on a college campus packed with eyewitnesses, imagine what happens to those lacking such institutional, economic, and situational protections."

Although I agree with your sentiment part of me can't help but think that this kid got rougher treatment in this specific situation precisely because of his "institutional, economic and situational protections."

Posted by: keatssycamore | Nov 17, 2006 11:01:27 AM

Leave it to Fred to rationalize and justify police-state methods. I'd give the justifiers the same treatment that I prescribe above for the actual abusers. And I'd have a smile of satisfied retribution on my face as Fred's punishment was supplied in public.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 17, 2006 11:07:31 AM

For fuck's sake, please don't respond to Fred Jones.

Posted by: Christmas | Nov 17, 2006 11:10:36 AM

"You don't fight the police at the scene, you fight them in court. That's why God made lawyers."

OK don't "fight" (in quotes because from the video I watched it is clear that our definitions of the word fight aren't the same) the police. I can be on board with that. Seems to be wise advice.

But take them to Court? You surely have enough common sense to know exactly how 99% of such suits turn out. If you don't, here's a hint "qualified immunity".

Oh Christmas!

Posted by: keatssycamore | Nov 17, 2006 11:15:10 AM

Please don't respond to those who respond to those who respond to Fred.

Whoops.

Were these campus cops or city police? The professional standards for campus police are often not very high.

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 17, 2006 11:17:59 AM

Just got here. Anybody blame the kid for not showing his ID yet?

God, that video was positively sickmaking!

Posted by: jimmmm | Nov 17, 2006 11:20:29 AM

I have no doubt in my mind that the officers were acting out their hatred of anyone from the mideast.

Oh, sure! Predjudice and hatred are a requirement before they can become UC police. They test them for their "hatred quotient".

It couldn't have been because he was not cooperative when repeatedly asked to produce the ID, stand up, give his name, screaming "Fuck You" at the top of his lungs, etc.

Nah....

As I stated, I also think the police were harsh. I also acknowledge that the subject also was culpable in making the situation much, much worse.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 17, 2006 11:22:12 AM

Unfortunately, there's really no way, based on the video, to know quite what's going on - there's a lot of screaming and a lot of "give us your badge number," but no direct confirmation of what's happening. I'd point out - perhaps not as urgently as Fred - that when dealing with law enforcment, it is best to follow their instructions. There's a larger question here of the overall usefulness of the Taser - if you don't like Taser-ing at all (and I don't), I think it's worthwhile to separate that from the specifics of this incident. If you think Taser use is sometimes appropriate or neceesary, then we're having a different discussion.

I'm not saying that this kid's treatment was right or appropriate - what I'm saying is I don't have enough evidence to know one way or the other. The kid's screaming - even before Tasering - sounds extreme and suggests some sort of acting out, which you get, occasionally, with college age kids. I'd guess that the situation was escalating, and I'd wonder what precipitated it, and how it bloomed so out of control so quickly. But before we have mass sit-ins, I'd suggest we get a lot more information and figure out more of what the story is. I'm no fan of the LAPD, but piling on at this point seems too easy until the circumstances are better explained.

Posted by: weboy | Nov 17, 2006 11:27:18 AM

Great post, Ezra.

On a related note: When Ezra was at UCLA, he debated David Lazar. I remember almost feeling bad for David when Ezra was through with him -- but then I remembered that it was David Lazar.

Posted by: lauren | Nov 17, 2006 11:27:49 AM

He might have aggravated it but did he do anything that deserved that kind of treatment? Did he take a swing at a cop? Did he brandish a weapon? Was he in the middle of assaulting someone when the police asked him for ID?

Posted by: Andrew | Nov 17, 2006 11:29:05 AM

It is rarely, rarely necessary to tazer someone to control their behavior, even a large physically fit person who is violently acting out. I say this as someone who worked nearly a decade in a locked psychiatric hospital that regularly treated active military personel. Properly trained staff can handle these situations with swiftness and efficiency and avoid injuries in almost every situation. It is all about proper training, regular practice and your confidence in yourself as a professional and your confidence in your colleagues.

Posted by: sprocket | Nov 17, 2006 11:45:51 AM

It couldn't have been because he was not cooperative when repeatedly asked to produce the ID, stand up, give his name, screaming "Fuck You" at the top of his lungs, etc.

"Not complying immediately with every request of a policeman" is not a crime deserving of electrocution. Neither is "saying naughty words". Tasers are weapons. They are not goads that you use when the steers won't move the way you want them to.

If you electrocute someone and it's not in self-defence, then it is (or should be) a serious crime. (And even a California jury would be unlikely to believe that it was self defence. What, did the cops think that this student was going to pull out a MAC-10? In a campus library?)

Posted by: ajay | Nov 17, 2006 11:56:09 AM

"Not complying immediately with every request of a policeman" is not a crime deserving of electrocution. Neither is "saying naughty words". Tasers are weapons. They are not goads that you use when the steers won't move the way you want them to.

I fully agree with you. What you don't like is that I also stated that the subject made things worse.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 17, 2006 12:02:28 PM

So if the victim makes it 50% worse and the cops make it 5000% worse does it even matter? Doesn't getting a few thousand volts through your body impede your judgement? What's the cops' excuse?

Posted by: Andrew | Nov 17, 2006 12:09:11 PM

Digby has spot-on comments today on this incident.

Digby links to a recent article (cover story) from In These Times: "Stunning Revelations:
The untold story of Taser-related deaths". The article discusses the evolution of the weapon and its use/misuse. From the article:

Taser’s stun guns are designed to shoot a maximum of 50,000 volts into a person’s body through two compressed nitrogen-fueled probes, thereby disrupting the target’s electromuscular system.
...
According to Taser’s promotional materials, its stun guns are designed to “temporarily override the nervous system [and take] over muscular control.” People who have experienced the effect of a Taser typically liken it to a debilitating, full-body seizure, complete with mental disorientation and loss of control over bodily functions.
...
Although the company spins it otherwise, Taser-associated deaths are definitely on the rise. In 2001, Amnesty International documented three Taser-associated deaths. The number has steadily increased each year, peaking at 61 in 2005. So far almost 50 deaths have occurred in 2006, for an approximate total of 200 deaths in the last five years.

Possible death penalty for failing to display a student ID card? Or to stand up when ordered, after having been tazed?

This doesn't make any fucking sense.

It sounds like someone laying on the ground after being tazed is very unlikely to be able to obey repeated orders to 'stand up". If the person could or could not stand up, what prevented the officers from simply dragging the person out of the library, or handcuffing them to a stretcher for removal?


Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Nov 17, 2006 12:18:09 PM

What's the cops' excuse?

Steroids.

Actually, I agree with sprocket that this kind of thing is typically due to poor training.

Posted by: Sanpete | Nov 17, 2006 12:18:39 PM

I am not against the notion of tasers - just in the use or over use of them in many situations. Telling someone that they will get tasered again and again if they don't get up is just nuts. Most people are incapable of standing or even moving much after being tasered - that's the point of a damn taser. Cops should expect that they will have to carry the person after they have been tasered. These cops should at the least be suspended and investigated.

Posted by: DuWayne | Nov 17, 2006 12:25:11 PM

Fred sits alone at his desk in the dark...

Posted by: scarshapedstar | Nov 17, 2006 1:40:32 PM

Anyone with that much "fuck the man" self-righteousness totally deserves it. This isn't what police brutality looks like, this is what spoiled rich kids look like.

Posted by: dan | Nov 17, 2006 2:36:03 PM

Dan,

What the hell, man? You just don't "get it" do you? This student is blameless....just ask any of these posters.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 17, 2006 2:43:16 PM

Thread-saving assertions:

If you think the student is a whiny dick, or if you think the student is noisy and self-righteous, or if you think the student was non-cooperative, or if you think he made things worse, or if you think the security guys had nice hair, or if you think cheesecake is tasty; unless that fact or those facts justifies being repeatedly tasered while handcuffed then your opinion is totally fucking irrelevant to the conversation at hand. The question is whether the tasering was justified, the answer is obviously no, and your personal opinion of the student is completely orthogonal to that fact.

Posted by: sidereal | Nov 17, 2006 2:54:18 PM

Listen to Christmas, for God's sake.

Posted by: norbizness | Nov 17, 2006 3:07:21 PM

The most outrageous thing about the student's conduct is that every time he got tasered, he seemed to get more agitated and upset. I mean, can you imagine?

Posted by: alkali | Nov 17, 2006 3:07:37 PM

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