He was askin’ for it!

Blog | Nov. 16, 2006

Recently, a UCLA student who failed to bring his student ID with him to the computer lab was forcibly ejected and Tasered by University PD. Seriously. The gross disparity between the seriousness of the supposed crime and the punishment meted out at the scene alone is bad enough, but the one thing I cannot understand is the attitude of people who believe the kid was asking for it. How could that or any other number of excuses justify the police officer’s tasering of an unarmed, non-violent man, just for forgetting his ID?

First off, the student was already leaving. The police officers were the ones who grabbed him. They were the ones who escalated this confrontation, threatened him with repeated electroshocks if he didn’t comply with their orders. (Already having thousands of volts run through your body causes you to lose muscle control, so he couldn’t comply. Still, the cops attempted make the student comply 4 more times.) Let me explain: when the student was already handcuffed, they Tasered him, even through he was not a threat. How can a person hold the student responsible for his actions while simultaneously absolving the police officers of their responsibility?

Shouting at cops and being argumentative is no way to win friends with law enforcement, because it’s pretty well-known that it’s well within their power to fuck you up. And maybe that’s the problem. When they are the ones given handcuffs, a gun and a Taser, cops should know that with these comes a responsibility to use them only when appropriate. These are not tools for merely enforcing one person’s will. The role of the police officer is to protect and serve, not to terrorize and bully.The officers here certainly forgot that, and that lapse in judgment for someone given their authority is inexcusable.

When students asked these cops for their badge numbers and they responded with a threat of tasering, it’s a blatant abuse of the power they have been given. And the reaction itself speaks volumes about how they feel about accountability when they know they’ve crossed a line. If they refused to give out their badge number, they knew what they were doing was wrong and didn’t want to be held accountable for their own breach of the law.

So to the people who supported those police, would you want someone like that protecting you? Someone who can harass and electrocute you with impunity, and you unable to defend yourself?

A person who acts like that is not a peace officer, they’re a bully behind a badge.

And for the people who shrug and blithely concede that hey, the world is a fucked up place: yes it is, so long as we don’t hold these people in power to be responsible for their actions.