Don’t Tase me bro’!

Posted in academic freedom, America, campus, cromulent grammer, democracy, journalism, Media, news, police, students, taser by Deputy city editor on September 19, 2007

The campus police at the University of Florida attack student who asked too many questions.

There are numerous places on the Internet where you can see University of Florida (Gainesville) police officers Tasing/torturing Andrew Meyer, 21, a journalism student who dared to ask John Kerry several highly pertinent questions when he appeared on campus this week.

They comprise a cinema vérité at its purest. The sound is hyper natural. You can hear clearly the victim begging for mercy, the hissing of the Taser and the screams. The Taser is renowned for causing incapacitating physical discomfort, usually short of death, although this is not unknown (Amnesty has documented 245 Taser-related deaths).

Earlier, some students had hooted and yelped in approval as campus police officers moved in to silence Mr Meyer but belatedly as events unfolded one or two in a crowded room indicated they might share the viewer’s horror at these graphic but highly educative events on an American campus. Not all viewers, of course: the imbecilic brigade of the American right is already screaming that this was a set-up. They are the ones who presumably can he heard to hoot with delight when the campus police take out one of their fellow students. And not Kerry, obviously, who increasingly seems to be himself an imbecile.

A very clear version of the incident can be seen here but You Tube has plenty of other examples. It is a frightening and also very powerful scene and one that will do further enormous damage to the international reputation of the United States and to the American campus. And further confirm that Kerry is as useful as a toad in a laundromat.

One reason why America cannot currently win its so-called war on terror is the repeated demonstrations like this one that when it comes to moral leadership, the American cupboard is looking pretty bare.

Free speech is now under physical attack on the campus of the university of Florida, and by agents of the state. Just like the university of Teheran! (This is also the state where not one but possibly the last two presidential elections were stolen by the Republican party apparat, disenfranchising ‘colored’ voters – one of the points being made by the brave Mr Meyer.)

The American campus is already seized by fear with foreign professors harrassed and deported by Homeland Security; arbitrary and capricious border controls applied to visiting scholars, and hysterical Zionist campaigns against anyone who raises their voice against the State of Israel, its historiography, its behaviour, or questions its claims. This has become a new McCarthyism. Joel Kovel’s recent experiences at the University of Michigan show that a university press long thought to be resistant to political pressure will now grovel to blowhards, although to its credit the university has resumed (grudgingly) sales of Kovel’s book, Overcoming Zionism.

This latest incident in Florida is extraordinary because it shows what happens when you put police onto campuses. The gang of police can be seen surrounding Mr Meyer from the very beginning of his questioning of Kerry. Kerry’s own behaviour as Mr Meyer is attacked is bizarre. He apparently sees it as no part of his own duty to interfere in any way. Profile in courage!

There are so many videos taken from so many angles that this is one of those rare events that the revolution has not only seen fit to televise but to do so from every conceivable angle.

The viewer can see the initial assault on the student when the police who had already been intimidating him decided that enough was enough and it was time to bring down this insolent yelp.

The viewer then sees him calling vainly for support from Kerry, anyone, receiving not a single word of support from anyone, followed by shots being wrestled to the ground by numerous officers while he can be heard begging not to be ‘tasered’ – using what is bound to become an immortal phrase: “Don’t Tase me, bro’!” This is a perfectly cromulent use of the infinitive verb to Tase™.

The Taser, normally marketed as  a non-lethal alternative to firearms, has never previously been marketed as a method of shutting up those who have inconvenient questions. Doubtless, sales will spike on this new publicity, with big orders from China, possibly. Meyer spent the night in jail on the trumped up charges of disrupting a public meeting and resisting arrest.

The president of the university pronounces himself regretful for the incident. I would have thought he should have sacked the police at the very least, or at least sent them to the countryside for re-education, and begged the student to accept an apology (two of the officers have been suspended on full pay). I do know this is a student I would hire for any newsroom unwise enough to have me in charge (not that I am ever likely to have the opportunity – it is merely an expression of the instant and wholly positive impact this young man has had on me as an almost singular representative of what remains decent in his profession).

There are also hundreds of news reports. Counterpunch asks why Kerry stood there and said nothing. Huffington is very good on the sequence. As always, the journalism that does not appear is as interesting as that which does. Why have journalists on American campuses shown themselves as craven and ineffective as their counterparts at the New York Times and Washington Post? I look in vain for the story in The Michigan Daily. America needs more like Mr Meyer.

Naomi Wolf is in top form on this here.

The Adventure of a Liftime : this is a terrific & energetic American blog with great detail and links.

Killing with impunity

Posted in Britain, de Menezes, Legal, London, Media, police, tantrums, Terror, Terrorism by Deputy city editor on August 3, 2007

Sanitised image of Menezes after being killed by the British police. British TV pictures are routinely heavily edited/censored.

How is it possible that an entirely blameless and innocent man should be killed by shots to the head in a public place, with scores of witnesses, and that nobody seems to be responsible? Multiple intelligence failures, command failures, communication failures, obstruction of investigators and the specific dishonesty and incompetence of senior officers have characterised the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell underground station in July 2005. But nobody is to blame or will be punished. A trivial and insulting charge has been laid that Menezes’s killing was a “health and safety” violation.

The failure of the British legal and political system to hold anyone to account for the killing of Mr de Menezes means the police in Britain are entitled to recklessly shoot dead whosever they want and nobody is responsible.

De Menezes was killed by the police force run by Tony Blair’s favourite cop, Sir Ian Blair, who remains in his job for reasons that nobody can explain.

He is either the thickest cop in England, the most incompetent, or the best ass-coverer in a long tradition.

How do you believe a police complaints commission report that finds that it took Blair 24 hours to find out what everyone else knew in the first two minutes – that Menezes was not a terrorist and that his armed police (aided by soliders) had killed the wrong man? Even if this is true, it is ridiculous.

The police complaints commission report which you can read about here doesn’t even try to point the figure at those responsible for organising this killing, but only looks narrowly at one aspect of the aftermath. The whitewash commission had earlier failed to hold anyone responsible for the killing itself. Indeed Cressida Dick, the aptly surnamed police”gold” commander in charge of the control room that presided over the killing of deMenezes, has subsequently been promoted.

The police complaints commission, an organisation as intentionally useless as any in existence, has produced a conclusion so ridiculous that it would be laughable, were not the subject matter so deadly important. Evidence that the police had hidden evidence and changed logs in the case was swept under the carpet earlier.

Harriet Wistrich, my former neighbour, who represents the family of the killed man, is right to be incredulous.

The police complaints commission criticises the head of the anti-terrorist branch, Andy Hayman, not for the killing of de Menezes but for failing to tell his boss, even though everyone else in London (including crime reporters) knew this a day earlier. Hayman had even briefed the Scotland Yard crime reporters’ association (a press club for whom membership is contingent on never straying too far from the Scotland Yard press office) that they’d killed the wrong guy. The idea that Blair was too busy to ask is simply and literally incredible.

Apparently, implied criticism of other officers was removed from the report because they threatened legal action, which is a favourite tactic of police officers when they are cornered and further evidence that the PCC is a toothless watchdog.

Everyone comes out of this stinking. Ministers for creating a dysfunctional monster in the Metropolitan police, and putting in charge the worst policeman in London, a knighted rozzer who should never have been trusted with anything more sensitive than points duty. The police, who are not merely incompetent but dangerous. The police complaints commission, which is a joke from which any members who still have a sense of honour should have resigned long ago.

When they are not busy arresting people for reading out the names of Iraq war dead at the Cenotaph, the Metropolitan Police is primarily concerned with itself. Senior officers are in thrall to a “system reality” constructed by consultants and information systems, driven by targets and the self-aggrandisement that comes to those who preside over them. The police force, not just in London, is divorced from the reality on the ground: that Islamic terrorism is simply not the existential threat it has been presented as. Individual officers are powerless to make much or any difference.

This has not been the first time that British police have killed completely innocent people, as this excellent page notes, and there has been no responsibility assigned or accountability demonstrated. A state in which the police can murder innocent men with impunity is a police state. With the publication of this latest whitewashed report, this fact now stares us in the face, and it is only British hypocrisy that prevents us from seeing it.