Friday, November 17, 2006

Paging Mr. Orwell

I wrote about this UCLA story last night, and after talking with some folks in my office decided to check out the 'official' line on this story. Here is part of the article from the AP:
A UCLA police officer shocked a student with a stun gun at a campus library after he refused repeated requests to show student identification and wouldn't leave, police said.

The student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, was shocked Tuesday at about 11 p.m. as police did a routine check of student IDs at the University of California, Los Angeles Powell Library computer lab.

"This is a long-standing library policy to ensure the safety of students during the late-night hours," said UCLA Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Greenstein.

She said police tried to escort Tabatabainejad, 23, out of the library after he refused to provide identification. Tabatabainejad instead encouraged others at the library to join his resistance, and when a crowd began to gather, police used the stun gun on him, Greenstein said.

It is both fascinating and scary to read this story. Thematically, the story suggests that the force used was appropriate, the student was a troublemaker and that the crowd was simply observing the incident. Compare this to the video. These notions are absolutely false. The police tasered the student multiple times when he was on the ground, the student was trying to leave AND the students were actively asking the police to stop.

You don't often find as clear examples of media legitimation of coercive state power, but when the shoe fits it really fits.

No comments: