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His "crime" was not showing an ID
Tasered by UCLA cops

By Cristina Hernandez | December 1, 2006 | Page 12

A STUDENT at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) was Tasered by campus police November 14 for the "crime" of failing to present his student ID.

Police stopped Mostafa Tabatabainejad at one of the campus libraries. The student said he did have his ID, but refused to present it because he felt that he was being subjected to "racial profiling."

Tabatabainejad was asked to leave the library. As he was walking to the door with his backpack on, police intercepted him and grabbed him by the arms. Using a common civil disobedience technique, Tabatabainejad "went limp" and asked surrounding students to join his resistance. That's when one officer let loose with a Taser gun.

A bystander captured the incident on a cell phone video, and the footage circulated around the world on the Internet. It shows Tabatabainejad screaming in pan and shouting, "I am not fighting you" and "I said I would leave." The Tasering reportedly continued even after Tabatabainejad had been handcuffed.

"It was beyond grotesque," UCLA graduate David Remesnitsky, who witnessed the incident, told the Los Angeles Times. "By the end, they took him over the stairs, lifted him up and Tasered him on his rear end...The Tasering was so unnecessary, and they just kept doing it."

Angry students immediately called for a protest. On November 17, some 300 people turned out for a march to the police station organized by various student groups, including the Muslim Student Union. Many protesters taped on themselves a sheet of paper reading, "I am a student. Don't Taser me!"

The march organizers' demands were modest--a public apology and an independent investigation. Acting Chancellor Norman Abrams announced that UCLA would agree to the independent investigation, but no university official has apologized yet.

The cop who Tasered Tabatabainejad has a history of brutality. Three years ago, he shot a homeless man at a campus study hall, and he was previously recommended for dismissal after an alleged assault on a student outside a fraternity. Yet the officer, Terrence Duren, is still on duty.

Some march organizers said they didn't think the Tasering was related to racism, but the majority of protesters clearly disagreed. In fact, UCLA students are continuing to protest the consequences of a statewide referendum 10 years ago that made it illegal to use race or ethnicity as a factor in hiring or admissions at public institutions in California.

The morning after Tabatabainejad was Tasered, several hundred students marked the 10-year anniversary of Proposition 209 with a protest. The demonstrators focused on the decline in admissions for minorities at UCLA, especially Black students.

Tabatabainejad is filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against campus police, students are petitioning for the cops to be disciplined, and the struggle continues against Proposition 209. These are important battles that need to succeed to create a better society, without racism and police brutality.

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