In the Blog

Excessive use of force.

November 17th, 2006     by Catherine Hayday     Comments

I had a very different post in mind for today. But a friend of mine just posted this, and I had to link to it.

The video (UCLA cops repeatedly tasering a student) is pretty chilling, but it is also a good example of the role and impact of blogs and other distributed media (including camera phones) in providing a different perspective on events.

This is not only a south-of-the-border concern, as tasers are used in Canada as well, where use of these “non-lethal” weapons has been linked to a number of fatalities.

It’s not really an uplifting news day, see Thea’s post below, but I did take some comfort in the number of male and female students who came forward to intervene (to the best of their ability, and mindful of their own physical safety).

Here’s an excerpt from Amnesty International’s perspective on the use of tasers: “Portable and easy to use, with the capacity to inflict severe pain at the push of a button without leaving substantial marks, electro-shock weapons are particularly open to abuse by unscrupulous officials, as the organization has documented in numerous cases around the world. … There is also evidence to suggest that, far from being used to avoid lethal force, many US police agencies are deploying tasers as a routine force option to subdue non-compliant or disturbed individuals who do not pose a serious danger to themselves or others. In some departments, tasers have become the most prevalent force tool. They have been used against unruly schoolchildren; unarmed mentally disturbed or intoxicated individuals; suspects fleeing minor crime scenes and people who argue with police or fail to comply immediately with a command.”

“… In many such instances, the use of electro-shock weapons appears to have violated international standards prohibiting torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment as well as standards set out under the United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. These require that force should be used as a last resort and that officers must apply only the minimum amount of force necessary to obtain a lawful objective. They also provide that all use of force must be proportionate to the threat posed as well as designed to avoid unwarranted pain or injury.”

Something to keep in mind while you’re watching the video. It doesn’t really seem like the UCLA cops were…

Tags: activist report, news flash

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