By now I'm sure you've seen the videos of University of Florida student Andrew Meyer being attacked and tasered by university police at a John Kerry speaking event. If not, here's one, here's another, and here's another.
The videos (reminiscent of the nasty video from last year showing UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad getting tortured with a taser by seriously fucked up campus police) show Meyer asking a series of questions -- which aren't particularly combative, although his tone is -- before his mic is turned off and the police officers inexplicably grab him from behind. He tries to pull away, raising his arms to show he's not threatening them, but they drag him out, pin him to ground as he yells "What did I do?" and says he'll walk out if they let him, and then they tase him as he screams in pain. One of the videos shows them taking him downstairs and accusing him, insanely, hilariously, of "inciting a riot." Downstairs he gets even more agitated, saying they want to "kill" him and give him to "the government." It sounds a little nuts, but at that point, you would be scared and furious, too.
Three things I felt when I watched these videos (about a half hour ago at the time I'm typing this):
First, Meyer is being kind of alarming and weirdly noisy, but not inappropriate. It's really odd how the police try to stop him almost immediately. As one of the videos shows, Kerry pointed to him and indicated that he should ask his question... he's not speaking out of line. I wonder about the context here. Had something happened between Meyer and the police earlier? Is it just that he exceeded a one minute time limit -- that's why he was attacked?
Second, John Kerry did not handle this well at all. I liked him all right before -- I voted for him, but what were the alternatives? -- but now I really dislike the man. His behavior here is pathetic. Listen to him droning sonorously on in the background as a guy is dragged down the aisles and pinned the ground. He does say something like, "Officers, can we--" but then trails off ineffectually... and you can also hear him make what sounds like a joke about Meyer: "...unfortunately he's not available to come up here and swear me in as President..." At that point, fair enough, maybe it didn't seem as bad from the stage as it looks on the video. But then the guy is screaming in pain, and Kerry is still droning on, not agitated, nothing. He should have gotten off the stage and told the cops to get the hell off that guy. It's not what a politician would do, but it's what a fucking man would do.
And third, the police officers in this video are absolute scum. They should all be fired, and the one who used the taser should be put in jail. It was bizarre and irrational for them to attack Meyer, a display of utterly unprovoked violence. The sheer brazenness of it, in front of an auditorium and multiple cameras, chills me. You can't go to a microphone and question an elected official (and again, there was nothing abusive or even particularly combative about these questions) without fear of being dragged off and tased? It's heartening that some audience members followed the police downstairs, telling them to stop and assuring Meyer that they would testify in his behalf -- but frankly, as far as I'm concerned, people watching this happen a few feet away would be justified in defending the victim from the officers with the use of any weapon available. The use of tasers on handcuffed prisoners, particularly when, like Meyer and Mostafa Tabatabainejad, the prisoner has done absolutely nothing wrong and is unarmed, is straight torture. You can't stand around and watch some innocent guy get tortured by the police. You ought to do whatever you can to make it stop.