Note to self: do not study late at night in UCLA's Library


For those of you who don't live, breathe, and eat libraries, you may not be familiar with the recent cause célèbre of the student who was tasered (why don't we say tased?) by campus cops at UCLA. Supposedly, during a routine id check of night owls in a computer lab, Mostafa Tabatabainejad refused to provide his student card. This led to police asking him to leave, and then some touching, a yell or two from Mr. Tabatabainejad and then, at least four taser blasts to "subdue" him (including one that was allegedly administered after he was handcuffed). Some students caught it with their cellphones (which must be the bane of all abusive cops these days) and have spread it around. YouTube has one video. You can't so much see the problem as hear it, but you get an idea.

I have so many questions about this incident. Before I get to those, please remember that I am not a racist, despite what I sometimes claim to think. And keep in mind that using a taser on a human is ethically questionable to begin with in my mind, so the question is not "should he have been tasered?" but rather "was force of some sort justified?" So here goes: was it actually racial profiling as Mostafa claims? Or was he doing something that might look suspicious? Why do police need id for late night studiers? Does this preventative measure do anything? Especially if the space is crowded, as it appears to have been. Do they only want students using machines, is that their problem? If so, why? Did he need to yell when his arm was grabbed?

My major question though (and proof that I am a. rule bound, b. eager to think good of authority and c. not going to be one to ever yell "to the barricades!") is why didn't he just show id when asked? Even if there is racial profiling, even if the purpose is questionable, even if the method solves nothing, why not just pony up the card? Did he have his card with him? It seems a minor inconvience, especially knowing now that the end result of not playing along is shocks. Real, electrical shocks.


Post a Comment