A University of Florida student who was arrested and Tasered during a forum featuring Sen. John Kerry touched off a debate about campus free speech and raised questions about whether campus police used excessive force.A judge released Andrew Meyer, 21, a student at the University of Florida, from jail Tuesday on his own recognizance. A phone call seeking comment from Meyer’s attorney, Robert Griscti, was not returned.
A video of the incident shows Meyer, a journalism student, trying repeatedly and heatedly to ask Kerry why he conceded the 2004 election after multiple reports of disenfranchisement of black voters and rigged electronic-voting machines.
Meyer was asked to leave the microphone after his allotted time was up but he refused. Campus police officers responded and tried to pull Meyer away in a struggle that lasted several seconds.
In the clip, officers force Meyer down as the student says he will walk out of the auditorium if officers let him go. They warn him that he will be Tasered — an electric shock weapon used by police to subdue suspects. Meyer can be heard crying out, "Don't Tase me, bro, don't Tase me" before the electric shock is applied. He is heard howling in pain.
As police intervened, Kerry is be heard saying: "That's all right. Let me answer his question." While Meyers was being dragged off, Kerry said, "Unfortunately he's not available to come up here and swear me in as president."
Two campus officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, University of Florida President J. Bernard Machen said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
"Administrators and police officials plan to analyze the incident and conduct an internal review and will consider changing protocols in response to this incident, if necessary," Machen said.
Kerry's office released a statement saying he was not aware of the severity of the police response.
"In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way," he said in the statement. "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," Kerry said. "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," he continued. "I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted."
Some experts believe Meyer could claim the use of excessive force in the incident.
“I would find it highly likely that he is going to sue,” said Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a free-speech group.
Complete article: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,297197,00.html
Video of the incident can be found here: Go on YouTube.com and search for "UF Lacks Freedom of Speech."
Please be aware that the video does include some questionable language. Mods, feel free to remove the link if you need to, but, if you can, please leave the title of the video and where it can be found in the post.
Sep 19, '07
Honestly, I'm not entirely sure about agreeing with him being "removed from the premises".
He held a politician's feet to the coals.
Kerry had hours worth of "speech".
This kid had a few minutes.
And yet, this kid is the "offender" and not the pol?
Because he "monopolized time" ?
PS: The "tazing" of an otherwise unarmed civilian is unacceptable. I'm sorry, but no matter what the kid might have "said", he didn't deserved to be responded to with "force". He wasn't a "threat" to anyone save for his opinions. What's next - being "reserved in your comments" about the next pol lest you get "tazed" for "disturbing the peace" ???
Last edit by Roy Fokker on Sep 19, '07
Sep 19, '07
I've been to a few forums and there is always one person--at least one person--who will be incredibly obnoxious, go over the allotted time, and take forever to get to the point. This is true even at some press conferences. I've certainly never seen a journalist taken away, arrested, and Tasered because they "hogged" the show.
This is the first time I've ever seen such an incident dealt with in this manner. Usually there is just a lot of "Yes, and your question is?" and then the questions (since few actually stick to the one question limit) are answered and that's the end of it. Life goes on.
I find the whole situation at UF to be appalling, including the disgusting attitude of the crowd as Meyer was being manhandled out of the room. (I don't care if he's known to be a prankster, you don't like him, or you don't agree with his opinion. It is absolutely embarrassing to think that some of those people in that room are my peers.)
Even more worrisome, this type of thing seems to be considered acceptable in this day and age. I can't imagine most people not being upset about this back in the '60s.
I'm not meaning to echo Meyer's own words here, but what did he do? Ask too many questions? Go over the allotted time? Use slang term for oral sex? Be annoying and obnoxious? Raise his voice? Disagree with having the microphone cut off?
That justifies being dragged away, arrested, and Tasered?
Last edit by zooz on Sep 20, '07