UF Taser Incident

A number of people have sent links (here is one) to videos of the Tasering incident during John Kerry’s speech at University of Florida. Viewing it on these videos it seems the police may have overreacted in subduing the young man, but it is very hard to see what is going on. The victim was more interested in making a scene than in having Kerry answer any of his questions, which of course is not a reason to hit him with the . As he is escorted from the hall more officers get involved in subduing him and they use the while he is on the ground. In the first video I watched the is neither seen nor heard but the video linked above provides clear audio evidence of the . The incident bears some resemblance to last November’s Tasering incident at a UCLA library. To my viewing the UCLA incident, in which repeatedly used a Taser on a young man who was leaving the library after and ID check, is more disturbing. The UCLA student was complying with police directives, while this UF student was struggling with police removing him from a hall for disrupting Kerry’s appearance. Kerry’s ghostly voice-over is strangely passive throughout. Again, I’m not agreeing that the student deserved to be Tasered for the disruption. Police may have been warranted in removing him from the hall–I haven’t looked into the circumstances of Kerry’s speech and the student’s presence there–and if so, they can use appropriate force to do so.

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  • JesseR

    Luis wrote:
    “The thing that I don’t understand in all this , is why was there so much use of excessive force. I understand he made a scene but to be surrounded by so many officers and to also have to be attacked with a taser, it just doesn’t make sense to me.”

    Kerry’s a US Senator and former Presidential candidate. Many police, and I’m sure private guards, are common procedure at a public speaking engagement.
    I agree about the excessive force argument against the police, they probably should’ve just thrown the student out on his ass which would’ve stopped his disruptions without weapons.
    One thing to question is the skill of these officers and others who have trigger finger – why can’t they just handcuff people and drag them to the ground (or police car)? Police would have a lot less bad PR to worry about if they didn’t carry around all that ammunition, and didn’t use it at the drop of a hat.

  • JBouchareb

    Having already seen the UCLA library taser video footage, I thought I already knew what I was getting into when I watched this video. But, what I just saw has evoked more than a mere disappointment with the UF Police Department.

    Firstly, the young man stepped up to the microphone with nothing but a book and his own thoughts. Although he proceeded quite aggressively to ask Mr. Kerry his series of “questions,” he did not say or do anything that directly threatened Mr. Kerry physically. He simply stayed in his place and tried to make his point (but not too well). If he had proceeded to pull out a gun or some type of threatening weapon, I would have encouraged the police to do anything possible to subdue this man. But nothing even remotely close to that happened. All of a sudden, though, you see several officers come out of no where. When they begin to push him around and grab his arms forcefully is when they crossed the line. At one point, the gentleman puts his hands up and says “help” and stops protesting!

    As soon as the officers start tasering the young man, I felt this sort of rage building up. Then I began to think about it more. It’s frightening to see the men and women who are supposed to be protecting us use this unnecessary force against an innocent activist. That makes me more worrysome that our seemingly democratic society is becoming more and more radical, scooping away the opposition to jail cells for being opinionated. The appropriate force should always be weighed with the potential danger of the person to be controlled. Unfortunately, the officers’ scale was off – they used too much.

  • Luis Rivero

    I consider Florida home, so when I saw this it was very hard to imagine. My friends attending the University of Florida know the student and most of them support what he was trying to do, although they recognize he is the typical class clown.

    The thing that I don’t understand in all this , is why was there so much use of excessive force. I understand he made a scene but to be surrounded by so many officers and to also have to be attacked with a taser, it just doesn’t make sense to me. I thought it was also interesting that it was university police on campus. Maybe they felt that they needed to make sure that no one else got any funny ideas.

    I feel like the trust that my friends had with the University of Florida has been crushed. How does an act of such violence to one person get equalized. I feel like you should be able to speak out your opinion anywhere and especially when you are on a college campus. You have just taken the first amendment and made everyone on your campus question the principles of the university.

    I know he didn’t want his question to be answered but in our society which politician actually answers the questions. They tend to go around the facts and sound good doing it. You can’t blame them though, they are trained by their committees very well.