Another Taser Tuesday update. Two University of Florida police officers have been placed on leave with pay after using an electronic stun gun to subdue a student who was questioning Sen. John Kerry at a campus forum.
CNN reports that the Florida Division of Law Enforcement will investigate Monday's arrest of student Andrew Meyer. J. Bernard Machen called the incident "regretful for us."
"The thing that I regret is that civil dialogue and civil discourse did not happen," Machen said. "That's fundamental to a university campus. Why it didn't happen is what we're trying to sort out."
During Monday's forum, Meyer came to the microphone to question why the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee from Massachusetts did not contest his loss to President Bush in Ohio over allegations that African-American voters were disenfranchised. He also wanted to know why he did not support Bush's impeachment and whether he belonged to the Yale University secret society Skull and Bones, as Bush did.
Meyer had about a minute and a half at the microphone before police stepped in and tried to haul him away. As he tried to escape their grip, Kerry protested, "That's all right, let me answer his question."
Meyer repeatedly questioned why he was being arrested as officers dragged him to the back of the auditorium and then used a Taser on him when he continued to struggle. Kerry pleaded for calm and officers warned Meyer he would be shocked if he did not stop resisting. Of course, he was tasered.
And now charged with resisting arrest with violence. A FELONY! As well as a misdemeanor count of disturbing the peace. He was released without having to post bond Tuesday.
According to university spokesman Steve Orlando, before police moved in, Meyer was asked to relinquish the microphone because he was "being disruptive." Even if true, the boy did not need to be tasered.
The arrest also triggered a protest by a group of University of Florida students on Tuesday. One of their number, Benjamin Dictor, called the arrest "an assault on reason itself."
"For a question to be met with arrest, not to mention physical violence, is completely unacceptable in the United States," Dictor said.
Some students cheered while Meyer's was being removed, others looked on quietly. Several screamed in protest when officers prepared to shock him.
As for Kerry, he says he didn't know a Taser had been used on the student until after he left the event, and said he hoped no one was injured.
"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way," he said.
"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."
One thing is certain in my mind. The world needs a re-education in common sense. This boy could have been removed without a taser being used. Police everywhere are far too quick to use them in situations where a bit of hard work or diplomacy will do just as well.
I have not been able to determine as yet, if Kerry actually answered his question after he was escorted out. The university needs to seriously look at it's "officers" and teach them a bit about tact, common sense and democracy.