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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Florida Student Tasered at John Kerry Forum

Hat Tip to Stop The ACLU for the email last night. (Video Below)

John Kerry was invited to speak at the University of Florida and after he was done there was a question and answer segment, two microphones, one on each side of the aisles, people in line to ask questions and Andrew Meyer, the student that ended up being tasered was at the back of one of the lines when John Kerry announced there would be only a few more questions allowed, decided to rush the microphone.

From Michelle Malkin who has a witness report:

However, while Senator Kerry was responding to a student’s question, all of a sudden Meyer rushed to the microphone with cops in pursuit. At that point no one knew what was going on. Could he have a gun, a bomb? Immediately, Meyer began yelling into the microphone that he had been waiting in line forever and that Senator Kerry should “spend time to answer everyone’s questions!” Senator Kerry tried to calm the student down by telling him that he would “stay here as long as it takes to get the questions answered.” The police approached Meyer who began taunting them by saying “what! are you going to taser me? are you going to arrest me?!” The police grabbed Meyer, but Senator Kerry asked the police to let him go and that he would answer his question. Senator Kerry finished answering the other student’s question and then proceeded with Meyer. (*This entire scene is not in any video I can find so far. This is why 2 cops are seen right behind Meyer at the start of some videos*).

Meyer approached the microphone and began to talk about a book he had which stated that Kerry won the 2004 election because of disenfranchisement of black voters and faulty voter machines that produced “Bush” as the winner. He then posed another question about why President Bush had not been impeached. “President Clinton was impeached because of a blowjob, why not Bush?”. The third and strangest question he posed to Senator Kerry was asking him if he was part of the skull and bones society with Bush at Yale. Meyer’s mic cut off after that, probably because he had mentioned the word “blowjob”. The cops grabbed him, but Meyer was able to get away several times. Eventually more cops were brought in to help subdue Meyer. Meyer continued to resist arrest, scream, curse; however he was eventually subdued by about six cops up around the entrance. As he is on the ground, he is told several times to put his hands around his back. He is also warned that he will be tasered if he does not comply. Eventually he is tasered twice. The video does not show whether he complied or not.

Senator Kerry was trying to answer his question to the audience, mostly the one about faulty voter machines. I am a die hard conservative Republican but I do respect Senator Kerry for trying to soothe the situation as best he could and trying not to escalate the situation. He DID intervene by letting the student at least present his question. I never received an opportunity to ask my question, but when Senator Kerry ended the show after the Meyer incident, he did come off stage to shake hands and give autographs. At that point, I was able to ask him my question, shake his hand, and get a autograph at the same time. Now why couldn’t Andrew Meyer do that?

I don’t know if this is relevant or not, but Andrew Meyer is a former sports writer for the school newspaper The Alligator. In his columns, he has been known to make ridiculous statements in order to gain attention for himself. Was today a publicity stunt?

For some reason I am reminded of the University of Columbia incident where Jim Gilchrist was invited to speak and the spoiled little brats of that school decided violence was a good means to stop him as well as the Tancredo incident.

I digress though...although this Meyer kid was acting like a spoiled little brat, the question remains, did he deserve to be tasered?

Here is the two minute and twenty three second video:

The cops grabbed him, but Meyer was able to get away several times. Eventually more cops were brought in to help subdue Meyer. Meyer continued to resist arrest, scream, curse; however he was eventually subdued by about six cops up around the entrance. As he is on the ground, he is told several times to put his hands around his back. He is also warned that he will be tasered if he does not comply.

From watching the video, we see the young man was not complying, but we also see what that eyewitness describe, there were six police officers surrounding him, so, what would have been the best way to handle this?

Neocon News provides us with another video (6 minutes) far more telling as well as walking us through both videos.

I think that after they removed him from the room, what occurred is very telling:

The second video follows Meyers without any noticeable time lapse. As the police lead him into the hallway, he tells them that he is going outside. The female officer tells him to stop resisting again. She tells him that he will comply or they will taser him again, though there is a lot of overtalking. Meyer tells her that he will not go with the officers. She asks him to take a deep breath repeatedly and calm himself down. She tells him that he’ll have to walk out with the officers. Meyer wants to know where his possessions are (read: the golden book) and she assures him that he will eventually get everything back.

“All right, man. What did I do wrong?” They begin to take him toward the stairs.

“My book, does anyone have my book? Hellooo, hellooo?”

“Why am I being arrested? Why am I in handcuffs right now?” And here is where it starts to get crazy again. “There are people who know I’m here.” Calm down. “You’re going to try and kill me.”

The camera hurries to follow them down the stairs at a safe distance.

Meyer starts to scream as they approach the exit. It sounds like he asks where his car is. Someone who appears to be with the school tells him to calm down and stop it right now. The female officer asks him about his ID. “I don’t have any ID on me. I didn’t think I needed a wallet for this…”

“What is this?” Meyer is told that he was attempting to incite a riot. “Incite a riot? I asked a question!” This is repeated two or three times.

“Oh my god! You’re giving me to the government! They’re giving me to the government!” He seriously says this.

“They’re giving me to the government! Can I have my camera back?” He is told that he will get everything back, but they want his name. “I’m afraid to tell you.” It doesn’t sound like she understands, she says something about giving her his ID then. “I don’t want to give you that, I’m afraid.” He’ll be tagged as a John Doe, then.

Meyer notices the camera watching him. He looks directly at it and says in a way that you just can’t help but feel compassion toward him, “you know who I am. Would you please tell people? Would you please tell people why I’m being arrested today? I didn’t do anything!”

A girl in the background says something about testifying for his defense. I don’t think she gets it. He continues on about how they should go to the police station and ask where they guy is who was arrested at the John Kerry rally. They’re worried about legal concerns, he is worried that George Bush’s government is going to kill him.

“Ask them where I am because they are going to try and kill me! They are going to try and kill me!”

One of the girls in the background trails off as she says “they’re not going to try to kill you…” while the other seems to flatly interject that there was no reason for him to be taken. It’s strange to hear the vying concerns.

“Please, can I? I’m not going anywhere with you. I’m going to sit down on this bench and if you’d take these handcuffs off me…”

“Oh my god. I’m going to just sit. I want to just sit down.” No, he can’t. They move him toward the doors.

“Uh, anybody? Anybody want to follow along and please come with us to make sure that they don’t kill me? Anybody, please?”
(That was from Neocon News as they described the events from beginning to end from multiple videos)

Now, Stop the ACLU first sent me the email about this story last night, but the video only showed portions of the incident and in this day and age of cell phone cameras, I knew there would be many more videos, some capturing what others didn't and I didn't want to start accusing the police of using unnecessary force without having the whole story, so I waited to post about this until today.

So, we are left with a few questions about how the police should have handled this and did they act appropriately.

Should they have subdued him with physical force alone? There were certainly enough police to do so.

Would the cops have been responsible if his arm got broken while resisting arrest or if he had been injured while resisting arrest?

Was tasering him absolutely necessary?

I see people from both sides of the aisle that wrote their stories last night, blasting the police for tasering the student, then I see people that have seen both videos, read the full reports and eyewitness accounts saying that after seeing the whole story and not just the original video that the police did act in the correct manner.

Which brings me back to where I digressed earlier.


In the University of Columbia situation the kids were allowed to actually rush the stage, with security doing nothing to stop them and violence ensued. That was a conservative speaker though and I guess rushing a stage and attacking a conservative speaker is alright and no one was even arrested, but question a Democratic speaker, even loudly and you get tasered and arrested?

Double standards anyone?

On Deadline brings us Kerry's statement:

In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but again I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention. I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of answering him when he was taken into custody. I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured. I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted.

(One additional thought added here about John Kerry's statement)

Does the word "clueless" occur to anyone else when you read his statement?

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