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Taser Incident Sparks Uproar

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YouTube is once again at the center of a political and cultural firestorm, as video of a University of Florida student being tasered at a Senator John Kerry speaking event is the must-see video of the moment.

The story so far is that 21-year-old Andrew Meyer came up to an audience mike to ask Sen. Kerry a series of questions about impeaching President Bush and whether or not they were both members of the Skull and Bones society at Yale. After he had been carrying on for a few minutes, the University of Florida Police forcefully grab Meyer to remove him from the room. There’s a scuffle and Meyer is brought to the ground, shouting, “Don’t tase me, bro!” Screams of pain follow. You can read a detailed account of the story over at the Associated Press.

Since this isn’t a political blog, let’s set aside the bigger issues of free speech and police brutality. What interests us is how standard this method of newsgathering has become, and also the way this video technology can cut both ways.

This isn’t the first time a university cop tasering a student has been caught on video and posted online; the UCLA student incident back in 2006 achieved similar notoriety. Sadly, seeing shaky camera footage of a tasering is not new. But at least such events aren’t sequestered out of the public eye.

And even the aspect of putting it on YouTube has become par for the course. Of course it’s there. What else would you do with it? Put it in a manila envelope and send it to your local paper? This isn’t the fifties. Or even the nineties.

What’s also not surprising is that Andrew Meyer has his own homepage. Beneath the bold headline organizing a protest march at the university, there is a link to the incident’s Facebook page, where people are called on to participate in the “Don’t Tase Me, Bro! March Against Police Brutality.” It’s not hard to imagine “Don’t tase me, bro!” becoming the next “I Can Has Cheezburger?”-like meme and carrying on a life of its own independent of Meyer.

He’s part of a generation that grew up encouraged to document everything about themselves and share it with the world. Once a part of the online cultural machine, he’s now an object of it. His prior life online is now investigated and passed around. The Associated Press reports:

Meyer has his own Web site and it contains several “comedy” videos that he appears in. In one, he stands in a street with a sign that says “Harry Dies” after the latest Harry Potter book was released. In another, he acts like a drunk while trying to pick up a woman in a bar.

I couldn’t find the Harry Potter vid on the site, and the video of the drunk I saw didn’t have any credits, so I can’t confirm this (but Meyer is hawking a “pimp lamp” on the site.) Does the fact that Meyer likes acting in skits make him a bad person, or excuse the brutality he suffered? Of course not. But now what he shared prior to the incident is included as part of the reported story. There is less mystery around Andrew Meyer. With so many concrete details so available, he can’t portray himself as just “anyone.”

Of course, Sen. Kerry doesn’t come off without his own YouTube scar. If you watch the video, you can hear him, still up on stage, half-heartedly imploring the security team to let Meyer ask his question. Not very commanding for a would-be commander-in-chief.

15 Responses to “Taser Incident Sparks Uproar”

  1. What is strange to me is the way the UPD is using this guys website as an excuse for their behavior. “He brought a camera so he wanted to get tazed” “he set this whole thing up”, makes sense to me. “He has a website with videos on it” so therefore he wanted to get tazed. They have got to be kidding.

  2. When on earth did he say FU to the police?
    I don’t hear it and I’ve watched this video from three different cameras.
    Also what happened the first ammendment?
    What happened to our right to question the government?
    Another proof of America taking away our rights.
    What the cops did was justified to a point. TO A POINT.
    They crossed the line.
    He did not violently resist.
    He resisted like any of us would.
    Honestly who can say that they aren’t thinking the same things?
    Or something relatively close to the same things?
    He was justified in what he did.
    I understand the cops were doing their jobs but they took it too far.
    They caused more of a riot than he did.

  3. “Free Speech does not include being abusive in a forum such as that”

    You are incorrect. Free speech according to is corresponding amendment includes rude questioning, showboating, heckling, etc. As long as the speaker is able to continue with his speech then he is well within the law. Kerry was able and willing to continue, as you can here him saying so in the video.

    Andrew Meyers was falsely arrested and he has the right resist that false arrest. In reality every student had the right to keep those police from assaulting him.

  4. Oh he was rightfully tasered. He tries to cause an uproar which could lead to rioting and people getting injured, or possibly killed? So what just let him carry on and get away with it? The police were well within their rights.

  5. The man deliberatly acted in such a way to have the police do what they did. He was showboating and wanted to happen what happend. Free Speech does not include being abusive in a forum such as that. I deplore violence, but I also deplore big mouth idiots who simply want as much attention as they can get.

  6. It is every citizen’s duty to resist false arrest
    There is no such crime as “resisting arrest.” This is a fictitious crime dreamed up by law enforcement to accuse a citizen of a crime when they refuse to surrender to the illegal demands of the police.
    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on numerous occasions that resisting a false arrest is not merely a citizen’s right, but his duty! In fact, the Supreme Court has gone so far as to rule that if a law enforcement officer is killed as a result of actions stemming from a citizen’s attempts to defend themselves against a false arrest, it is the fault of the officer, not the citizen.

    “An illegal arrest is an assault and battery. The person so attempted to be restrained of his liberty has the same right to use force in defending himself as he would in repelling any other assault and battery.” (State v. Robinson, 145 ME. 77, 72 ATL. 260).

    “Each person has the right to resist an unlawful arrest. In such a case, the person attempting the arrest stands in the position of a wrongdoer and may be resisted by the use of force, as in self- defense.” (State v. Mobley, 240 N.C. 476, 83 S.E. 2d 100).

    Not one person attempted to rush to the aid of Meyer who was screaming “HELP! HELP ME!” Do individuals have the right to come to the aid of another citizens being falsely arrested? YES!

    “One may come to the aid of another being unlawfully arrested, just as he may where one is being assaulted, molested, raped or kidnapped. Thus it is not an offense to liberate one from the unlawful custody of an officer, even though he may have submitted to such custody, without resistance.” (Adams v. State, 121 Ga. 16, 48 S.E. 910).

    And on the issue of actually killing an arresting officer in self defense:

    “Citizens may resist unlawful arrest to the point of taking an arresting officer’s life if necessary.” Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306. This premise was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case: John Bad Elk v. U.S., 177 U.S. 529.

  7. For the record only 2 cops tried to stop him from what was an abusive speech disguised as questions. He then danced away from them like a smart assed idiot. RIGHT there he was resisting what the officers wanted. Then more cops appeared when he wasn’t stopping. The cops came in after he gave a full blown, idiotic speech, rather than just ask a question or two.

    Then when then had him down he still would not stop making a scene. They said “Hands behind your back” and what did he say?

    He said, “FUCK YOU”

    So I don’t believe any of the shit people are saying about his freedom of speech being violated. He got to talk more than anyone there. People also have a right to a decent, clean and calm discussion. He was clearly trying to bash. He was asking for it when he danced around and thought he was so clever and sayd FU to the cops.

  8. What I found really interesting about this video is the way I first found it. Google had embeded it directly into their Google News page. This is the first time that I have seen a YouTube video show up on Google News. As more and more events are captured on YouTube, it’s neat to see Google help legitimize citizen journalism by using video on their news site.