Tasing incident should stir anger

Stop romanticizing the alleged fairness of the bureaucracies we live under.

Tuesday, Nov. 14, at UCLA’s Powell computer lab, a student was shocked with a stun gun five times for failing to produce his student ID during a random check. Another student in the lab recorded footage of the event in its entirety on his cell phone, and it is circulating all over the Internet. Taser guns are used to debilitate ones muscles from any involuntary contractions, essentially inducing paralysis. In the video, the police repeatedly demand that the student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, “stand up” – hardly something he was capable of. The officers were well aware of the amount of electricity they subjected him to, and were also aware of his complete inability to move after their repeated shots.

I was amazed and disillusioned by comments left on the YouTube broadcast of the video. One of the viewers said, “Tough break, kid. Show your ID when asked, keep your mouth shut, and you won’t get tasered.” The fact that someone can see what happened, know the details, and have such little regard for humanity and dignity is a disastrous reflection of our decreasing regard for one another. If the individuals who saw this video are focusing on the technicalities of what happened, they have clearly missed the mark.

There are also opinions circulating that the police weren’t racist and that they were just doing their job. Any intelligent person aware of the social and political climates we live in today would know better than to think racism isn’t a key factor in this incident. We need to stop romanticizing the alleged fairness of the bureaucracies we live under. We have to understand that this incident would not have happened to a white student who forgot his ID. To say that minorities need to stop playing the “race card” essentially absolves any oppressing parties of responsibilities toward eradicating these systems of oppression.

If seeing this video doesn’t stir any sadness or anger in you, then I invite you to intellectualize the event, strip it of its repugnancy, and explain why it is a rare occurrence and that these cops were an exception to the rule. If this is not the case, then it is incumbent upon every individual capable of independent thought to proactively work toward an honorable justice system, and a good sense of justice. If we fail to recognize the dignity and bond we share as human beings, we risk having our external identities become tools for subjecting one another to injustice.

Mariam Hannon is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]