Andrew “Don’t Tase Me Bro” Meyer
There is a video taken by Clarissa Jessup being broadcasted on the news of Andrew Meyer being tasered by campus police at the University of Florida Monday, September 17th. If I understand the story correctly Mr. Meyer is a college student down in Gainesville, Florida. He was attending an appearance by the 2004 Democratic presidential hopeful Senator John Kerry. Mr. Meyer originally appears in the video trying to pose a question to the Senator. Mr. Meyer appears agitated and angry with John Kerry’s decision not to challenge the results from Ohio especially after what happened in Florida back in the 2000 presidential election between the Democratic contender Al Gore and the Republican contender George W Bush. It can be assumed that each person at this Kerry appearance event is allotted so much time at the microphone to ask their question or make a comment.
At the end of his time Mr. Meyer is asked to leave the microphone. He wasn’t finished with his question and he refused. Mr. Meyer wanted to finish with what he had to say and he wanted a dialog with Mr. Kerry if just for a few minutes. The request turns into a demand that he step away from the microphone. Mr. Meyer refused. The microphone is turned off. Mr. Meyer counters by raising his voice so everyone in the auditorium can hear him without the help of the sound system. Two campus police officers move in to escort Mr. Meyer away. Mr. Meyer continues to resist and is becoming more agitated. More officers come to take Mr. Meyer away. Mr. Meyer is now highly emotionally charged and is trying to garner support from the rest of the audience. You can see everyone in the auditorium has their camera on Mr. Meyer and are following his struggle with the campus police very closely. There is a skip in the video. But the next scene has Mr. Meyer on the ground. He is about to be tasered. He is begging the police not to do it and he is telling them he did nothing wrong. His voice is loud and he feels he is in the right. He is tasered. Other students are screaming for the police to leave him alone.
Although I have difficulty hearing Mr. Kerry in the video the news caster says that he could be heard trying to tell the police to let him finish. Mr. Kerry wanted to ask the student’s question When Mr. Kerry was asked to comment on what had happened he expressed his disappointment that the Q&A could not have been concluded without incident. In his thirty seven years of making public appearances that included such emotionally charged issues as the war in Vietnam, Mr. Kerry has never experienced this kind of chaos. Mr. Kerry hoped no one was injured and didn’t realize Mr. Meyer had been tasered until long after the fact. My first reaction was how he could not know the way Mr. Meyer being electrocuted the way he was screaming out in pain. But then I have to remember that if this is a Senator we’re talking about and if the situation was getting disorderly top priority would be the Senator’s safety and he was probably escorted off the stage when the handful of other students began to protest what the police were doing.
The broadcast of this video was followed by an interview of two students who attended the event and witnessed the entire affair. Both were white males and both were either late teens or early twenties. One of the students described the altercation as Mr. Meyer not resisting arrest but simply trying to find out why he was being arrested when the police suddenly tasered him. The other student described the event as the police being very professional and calm while the student was obviously trying to escalate the matter. I wonder which one was most likely to be a democrat and who was likely to be a republican. Both were correct. But both only admit to seeing only half of what had happened. Obviously somewhere in the middle lies the truth.
There are times I know I’d like to see somebody being hauled away because of their insistence of being a nuisance. I’ve had a couple of visitors to this blog that I could imagine I wouldn’t mind too terribly if I saw them being tasered. But in all honesty I seriously doubt if I would condone such abuse. Although people can be tasered without serious injury the pain and suffering it can cause is nothing less than torture. I have seen video of law enforcement personnel being tasered in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the procedure. But there’s a big difference between someone agreeing to be tasered as a test or a demo and someone being tasered in order to gain their compliance.
But if I have to form the opinion I would have to say that the fault lies with the people who were in charge of conducting the event. The event administrators moved way too quickly to silence a long winded student who was emotionally excited and wanted to make what he felt was a compelling statement. Instead of indulging the student for a couple of minutes and deflating the potential for chaos, the student’s force was trumped by the force of the campus police. When the student upped the ante by refusing to comply the police continued to add pressure. Mr. Kerry understood what was beginning to happen and tried to deflate the event by indulging the student. But by then Mr. Kerry was no longer able to hold people’s interest and Mr. Meyer had succeeded in gaining everyone’s attention. The altercation continued to crescendo until the police felt justified into using the taser.
In my humble opinion Mr. Meyer was obviously wrong. But the school countered his poor choices with poor choices of their own. Arresting students for spending too much time at the microphone isn’t very good policy. And no matter how professional police are while they do it, tasering students just for being politically and emotionally excited is even worse.