Revolution #70, November 26, 2006


UCLA: The Vicious Tasering of  Mostafa Tabatabainejad

UCLA students and many others are outraged over an incident of vicious police brutality and racial profiling on campus. The night of November 14, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a 23-year-old Iranian-American student, was given multiple stun gun shocks by UCLA police inside Powell Library.

A six-minute video taken by a student’s cell phone camera, available at the YouTube website, captures the screams of Tabatabainejad as he was shocked five timeswith a Taser, each, according to the Daily Bruin, lasting three to five seconds. Witnesses said some shocks came while he was handcuffed. A taser delivers volts of low amperage energy to the body causing a disruption of the body’s electrical energy pulses, locking the muscles. According to a report from the ACLU, tasers have killed 148 people in the U.S. and Canada since 1999.

What is the cops’ justification for this brutality? They say Tabatabainejad refused to show his student ID card during “a routine nightly procedure” and did not exit the library when ordered to do so. The LA Times quoted the UCLA Police Chief saying, “The officers decided to use the Taser to incapacitate Tabatabainejad after he went limp while they were escorting him out and urged other library patrons to join his resistance.”

UCLA students who demanded an end to the brutality and asked for the officers’ name and badge numbers were either ignored or blatantly threatened with also getting tasered .

Tabatabainejad’s attorney, Stephen Yagman, said his client refused to show his ID because he thought he was being singled out because of his Middle Eastern appearance. On the video of the incident you can hear Tabatabainejad, as he’s being tasered, shouting, “Here’s your Patriot Act. Here’s your fucking abuse of power!”

Yagman plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing the UCLA police of “brutal excessive force,” as well as false arrest.

Many students and others are pointing to the significance of this in the post 9/11 climate of fear and intimidation, in particular the round-ups and detentions of Muslim and South Asian immigrants and the targeting of the Iranian community a few years back during the government’s call for special registrations.

UCLA is also a campus where there’s been an intense battle over “academic freedom” and the right to dissent (a fascist student group last year made a call to tape record the lectures of “radical” professors); and where students from minority nationalities are feeling increasingly marginalized and under attack. (On Nov 15 there was a protest of 200 plus students and activists on campus against Prop. 209, the anti-affirmative action law that has contributed to the low enrollment of Black, Native American, and Chicano students.)

This brutal attack has outraged and spurred to action students from a variety of backgrounds, political views, and campuses. On November 17, a crowd of 200 gathered for a rally and press conference and a joint statement of protest was put out by over 50 student organizations.

The vicious taser attack on Mostafa Tabatabainejad underscores, yet again, the need to resist the whole post 9/11 climate of torture, brutality and repression. As the World Can’t Wait statement says: “That which you will not resist and mobilize to stop, you will learn - or be forced - to accept. There is no escaping it: the whole disastrous course of this Bush regime must be STOPPED. And we must take the responsibility to do it.”

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