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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"A mysterious book"
Posted by Jill | 6:05 AM
Here's Greg Palast, author of the "mysterious book" being carried by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer when he committed the new American crime of daring to ask questions:

Now, I've given many talks. And some questioners have taken too long at the mic. But I've never done the Stalin thing of cops and electronic beating to limit the discussion. (Yes, it's true that Randi Rhodes recently threatened me with a taser when I've monopolized the mic in her studio.)

The Washington Post reported only that Meyers (sic) was holding a "mysterious yellow book." VERY mysterious.

I would note that enchained student was busted in Alachua County, Florida, where, six years ago, I uncovered massive, systematic and utterly illegal disenfranchisement of Black voters - ordered by Gov. Jeb Bush's office just before the 2000 election. ("Florida's Disappeared Voters," February 2001, The Nation.) Alachua remains under federal scrutiny for its long history of racial bias against Black voters.

And here's the video:

OK, let's take a look at what happened here. Yes, you have a guy who was obviously looking for a confrontation. But asking unexpected questions, even out of turn after the question/answer session is supposedly done is hardly an arresting offense. From what I see in the video, Meyer pulls away from the cops only once, then allows himself to be led to the exit, protesting. Note how the female officer tries to take his book away from him (as if the content of the book determines if he's committed a crime). And because he doesn't shut up, he's wrestled to the ground and tasered.

As Rachel Maddow said last night, the existence of tasers has broadened the number of activities for which police feel they can use force. Meyer is in no way a threat to anyone here, unless you regard asking questions as a threat. Of course, when the questions are to John Kerry about why he crumpled like a Yugo when there was clearly evidence of vote suppression in Florida and Ohio, and whether his status as a Skull & Bones member, just like George W. Bush, one could say that such questions ARE a threat -- to conventional wisdom.

Meyer may be a provocateur, but if you're going to go there, you start heading down a path of blaming the victim when cops overreact. And then you're headed into Rudy Giuliani territory, on whose watch Abmer Louima was brutalized and sodomized with a toilet plunger while in police custody after being arrested for the crime of being outside a nightclub. And Patrick Dorismond, shot to death for the crime of being outside a nightclub and declaring he was not a drug dealer. And Amadou Diallo, shot to death for the crime of trying to reach for his wallet to identify himself to police. And Sean Bell, shot to death for the crime of leaving a nightclub.

We live in a society in which there is a written procedure for insulating the president from even having to look at protesters, where anyone can be declared an enemy combatant at any time on the president's say so, where an executive order allows the president to declare you an unperson for "threatening stabilization in Iraq" -- which can include daring to question his policy. Constitutional expert Bruce Fein has said that this executive order would make it illegal for counsel to represent you and illegal for doctors to treat you if you are so declared. In the absence of the Administration's contempt for due process and the Constitution of the United States, it would be easy to dismiss this as a nonstory and dismiss Meyer as a college student looking for attention. But in a climate of increasing tolerance of suppression of opposing views, it's an ominous warning.

Perhaps the most chilling part of the video is listening to John Kerry, snarking in his droning voice about "I guess he wants to come up front to swear me in", while all this is going on, which makes me think even more that Meyer -- and Greg Palast -- are on to something.

Pam has more on how tasering, a practice meant to avoid lethal force, seems to be evolving into standard police procedure.


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