Andrew Meyer, a 21-year-old University of Florida student, was arrested for asking Senator John Kerry several pointed questions about the 2004 election and causing a disruption.
“Were you a member of Skull and Bones with Bush? Were you a part of the same secret society?” Meyer yelled before being carried off by police.
As police struggled to control Meyer, he continued to scream questions at the officers.
“Why am I being arrested? Why are you arresting me? What have I done? What did I do? Get away from me! Is anybody watching this? Can someone do something here? Why are they arresting me?” Meyer also repeatedly said “Woah” and held his arms up, attempting to pull away.
Students applauded at first, but things changed when Meyer was forced to the ground by numerous police officers as he screamed “Get the [expletive] away from me!” It took about a minute to take Meyer down and about another minute of holding him down before they dragged him from the assembly.
“You will be tased if you do not comply,” one officer warned Meyer.
He responded with “I’ll walk out of here, if you let me go. Don’t tase me.”
Needless to say, the student was tased, his own screaming masked only by other students.
“Stop, Stop!”, “Why are you doing that?” and “Police brutality!” were among the comments heard from the students who watched.
Out in what seemed to be the lobby police insisted that Meyer “Quiet down,” and “Take a deep breath.”
He was told there, after asking them several times why he was being arrested that he was “inciting a riot.”
Meyer was released from Alachua County Criminal Justice Center early Tuesday morning after arraignment, where he was charged with ‘resisting arrest with violence’ and ‘disturbing the peace’ while at the forum with Sen. Kerry. Meyer’s lawyer, family and some students found the use of the Taser unnecessary, and the UPD has not made efforts to contact the family thus far.
“Not only should they fight for the charges to be dismissed, they should also sue the police department and also work to have those police officers fired,” UF student Matt Marazios posted on the Independent Florida Alligator’s comment board.
Other students agreed. “Shame on the UPD. You went overboard, guys! Trying to play Mr. Macho again …” and, “As someone who was considering UF as a graduate school option, I can say definitely I have removed the school from my list … shame on UF,” were a few of the other posts on the site.
Some, however have sided with the UPD.
“Andrew, you behaved dishonorably—next time show some class and dignity,” one poster said.
“Mr. Meyer is described as a journalism student. Is this how they train people in the J-School at UF? … Maybe next time, Meyer will drop the Dane Cook rant approach and learn to ask a tough question the right way: respectfully and directly,” said another.
Meyer has no past criminal record except a few minor traffic violations.
Protesters gathered at UF on Tuesday afternoon to support Meyer.
About 200 people, mostly UF students, marched to the campus police department carrying signs that said, “Don’t Tase, Bro” and “Free speech is not a felony.” Some called the police names, according to the Gainesville Sun.
“I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention,” Kerry said in a statement regarding the situation.
A similar situation unfolded last November at the UCLA library, where library police officers randomly check student ID cards after 11 p.m. Student Mostafa Tabatabainejad failed to present his BruinCard and was asked to leave. After Tabatabainejad didn’t leave the library quickly enough he was escorted out by the police.
Tabatabainejad asked the officer to let go of him and was then tased by the officer because he was resisting.
According to the Daily Bruin, Tabatabainejad said “I’m not fighting you,” and “I said I would leave,” but the police continued to tase him even after he was in handcuffs.
Below is a YouTube video of event, courtesy of Gainesville Sun.