Saturday, November 18, 2006

UCLA UCPD use tazer gun on Iranian-American Student

Since we have been discussing torture off late in class, I feel that this issue is very relevant to our understanding of Human Rights. Mostafa Tabatabainejad, 23, a student at UCLA did not show ID to campus police, while working in one of the university's libraries. The police then used a tazer gun on him. The excruciating video of this incident can be viewed on youtube. The link to it is below:

I could not watch the whole thing. You can clearly hear the student say that he would leave, but the police continue to abuse him. What was even more shocking was the number of students who just stood there. Yes, there were some who asked the police for their badge numbers. They yelled at the police and the police just seemed to yell back.

The video is long--over six minutes. I could not watch the whole thing. It was just too painful.


jolly j said...

There are so many questions to be asked of this situation. What is most curious to me is why in the world would you tazer someone for 6 minutes?! I'm no expert in tazers but I assume that one quick zap would do the job. And clearly the student had no chance of searching for his ID when he is getting tazered! And why were there police in the library and why were they questioning the student workers? If the police are looking for trouble in the library, my guess would be to check the 3rd floor stacks- not the front desk! Then I wonder- could this be a racist crime since the student was Iranian? Were the police tipped off that he was a wanted 'terrorist'? Watch out- racial profiling is no longer limited to airports... it's now the newest edition on college campuses. But I think what scares me most is that other students were unable to stop the incident. I believe that the majority of people would view someone in a police uniform as an authority figure, and therefore would not challenge their authority. I'm sure many of the students believed that the police were doing their duty and watching out for their safety. And those students who questioned this authority were quickly met with resistance. If I had been present at this scene, I would have felt very abandoned because the police force that was supposed to be protecting me was harming others just like me.

Christine said...

What is scary about this incident is the police who were threatening the other students who were getting "too close" to the police that they too would be tasered. In fear of the taser gun, that clearly was harmful, students seemed to step back and not want to risk the possible harm of the taser gun. This sure does seem like like a way to extensive of a measure to use on one student in a library when there were a number of police present. I do not think the student was any risk to other people! I thought I would post a news link below:

Anonymous said...

The United States continues to press for more diversity in the work place and on college campuses. At the same time, they question people from different diversities as in the case of this UCLA student who was in the library doing his work. Was he sitting there researching how to fly airplanes into buildings? Probably not. He didn't seem to be doing anything suspicious, and I don't think UCLA would have accepted him into college if they were suspicious of him. UCLA most likely used diversity as one characteristic in accepting him to their school. And this same diversity is what got him tazered.

I agree with everything Jolly J said, especially the fact that the incident was 6 minutes long. There is no reason that it should have taken that long for them to arrest him. The student was not doing anything threatening enough to warrant tazering for 6 minutes. The UCPD could have considered him to be a threat because he did not have an ID, but the student did not deserve to be tazered for that. The situation should have been dealt with in a more civil manner.

--Kristy G

hewhowould said...

Public Safety officers protect students from the public but who will protect the students from them? This reminds me of the incident 2 years ago where a Public Safety Officer shot himself in the gut and blamed it on a 6’8” black man. The officers at UCLA were given tazers as a door prize. Come on that just spells trouble. Odds are that those officers did not know how to use the tazer nor did they know the effects of the electric shock on the human body. It’s a library, who in Gods name would want to cause trouble in a library at 11:30 on a Tuesday night. The problem here is the Public Safety Officers, most of them are not even trained to handle situation and thus resort to brute force to fix the situation. I really want to see an interview with the Public Safety Officers and see what they have to say about it.

Mad Max said...

My Dad was a Police Officer who died on the day of his retirement from the police force. He proudly served his city for 32 years.

It angers me to no end to see the disrespect and hatred for our police officers. I do not look through the world with rose colored glasses and I know and understand that racism is alive and well in Police Departments. It's everywhere. But what many people don't seem to understand is that these officers GIVE THEIR LIVES to protect us.

They have seen 9 year old gang bangers shoot and kill. They have seen mothers kill their children, fathers kill entire families. They are surrounded on a constant, daily basis with "bad guys." Their lives are consumed with what they see on a daily basis. Officers with only a few years on the force have seen more evil than most of us will see in our entire lives.
Towards the end of my Dad's life, he became nostalgic about his life on the police department. He told me stories that haunt me to this day. Stories of being shot at, stories of watching a few of his partners take their last breath. I was 26 years old when I heard of the 3 lives he'd taken in his career and how he was afraid of how he was going to atone for the lives of these 3 men. How he saw the eyes of their mothers every night when he closed his eyes.
A crime is a crime. A Police Officer is not exempt from proper justice. BUT, let's take a moment to think of what these men and women are doing for US before we are so quick to point the racist finger to their faces.

P.S. Hewhowould, any officer who is certified to used a tazer must be trained on its use and before receiving certification must be tazed themselves. Where do you get your ideas from?

hewhowould said...

Mad Max
Please forgive me. I was referring to Public Safety Officers as in campus police, for they are the ones who tend to lack training and are hired off the streets. I agree with you that cops tend to get a bad rap and I give your father my gratitude form what you say he wore his badge with honor and courage. But this is not about those who actually live by the code of Police Officers this is about those who don’t. It is about the ones that tarnish and destroy the integrity of Police Officers everywhere.
I would like to apologize for my miss information in the article I thought tasers were given out to officers but it was a “taser award”…… not sure what that is or what the criteria for the reward is.

Four of UCLA's nearly 60 full-time police officers recently won "Taser Awards," given by the manufacturers of the electronic shock device to "law enforcement officers who save a life in the line of duty through extraordinary use of the Taser," according to the Los Angeles Times

Carter said...

I wanted to add that currently most people think that the student refused to show his ID, not that he didn't have it. I'm not posting this to justify what the officers did (no one uses a taser to get someone to move, they're get someone to not move), but rather to show that the student wasn't completely innocent. A big part of our class is about getting to the truth of matters, and as we've read the victim often gets mislabeled as entirely innocent. This shined a little light on the situation, but I'm still horrified at the officers' actions. There's nothing more disillusioning than seeing those who are supposed to uphold justice smash it to pieces.

sms said...

This reminds me of an incidence two years ago at F&M where an Arts House Halloween party was busted by the police. They were using unnecessary violence against the students (like throwing them to the ground and hitting them) and it caused an outrage in the school afterwards. As Mad Max is saying, I understand that police officers have been heros in many cases, but there are quite a few stories I hear of police abusing their power. I understand that there will always be bad apples, but I really feel that changes MUST be made. I feel that an act, such as the one committed at UCLA, warrants a punishment, such as a 2-5 year suspension from the job. The police are the law enforcers of the land. I feel they must be held to higher standards and be punished more severely due to their position in society.