UF student tasered during John Kerry Q & A
September 21, 2007
__YouTube video draws attention from students and civil liberty groups__
p. A student at the University of Florida Gainesville was stunned with a taser Monday after disrupting a question-and-answer session with Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass). Student Andrew Meyer reportedly broke in line and spent roughly one minute lambasting Kerry on topics ranging from his failure to publicly support the impeachment of President George Bush to his alleged involvement in Skull and Bones, a secret society at Yale.
p. He was then dragged away by campus police and taken to a local jail. Two university police officers have been placed on administrative leave as the university investigates whether excessive force was used.
p. According to the police report, Meyer castigated Kerry.
p. “You will take my question because I have been listening to your crap for two hours,” he said, and handed a video camera to a nearby woman. The video has since been circulated widely on the internet and television news and shows Meyer asking why Kerry did not contest Bush’s election in 2004 on the grounds of reported disenfranchisement, among other questions.. After about one minute, Meyer was told his time was up and police attempted to remove him. On the video, Kerry was heard saying he would answer the student’s “very important question” while Meyer yelled, “What did I do? Get the fuck off me, man, I didn’t do anything.”
p. Subsequent investigation of Meyer revealed a website on which he had posted videos of himself involved in various practical jokes, as well as what has been described as a “disorganized diatribe” against the Iraq war, the U.S. media and the American public for its ambivalence. Police officers described the incident as a publicity stunt on the part of the student. They claim he was “yelling as loud as he could to sensationalize his presence” and that his behavior changed greatly once in police custody.
p. Meyer was held in detention Monday night and released without bail the following morning. Police have called for charges against him. The Office of the State Attorney has yet to make a decision on formal charges. The incident elicited a protest from several students Tuesday, and university president J. Bernard Machen has promised a student-faculty review panel to examine “all of our protocols relative to student dialogue and faculty interaction.” Kerry has stated that the disruption was the first of its type in his 37 years of public speaking.
p. “I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption,” he said, “but again, I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police.”