Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More on the UCLA Taser Story

Since I'm an alumni, I keep checking from time to time on the UCLA taser story but an article or two got past me. Here's a story from the Library Journal on the response by the American Library Association:
American Library Association (ALA) President Leslie Burger has written a strongly-worded letter to Norman Abrams, acting chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), urging him to reexamine security practices in light of the November 14 incident in which a UCLA student was Tasered in the library by campus police. The incident, caught in part on a cellphone camera and broadcast on YouTube, began after the student resisted showing his ID to an unarmed student Community Service Officer because he believed the request to be racial profiling. However, it remains unclear why the campus police officers who responded decided to use the Taser on a noncompliant though nonviolent student.

Burger's December 13 letter framed the issue in terms of library practices:

"I was shocked, as were many of the 66,000 members of the American Library Association, to read about and watch the November 14, 2006 incident that unfolded at the Powell Library. On behalf of ALA I urge you to take immediate action to ensure that library patrons will never be subjected to this type of shocking and unwarranted treatment again. ...

I can see no excuse for the behavior taken against the student. When I went to UCLA, I enjoyed their libraries and got hours of work done in them but I was never once asked for any identification by an officer. I will say one thing; the greater L.A. area has always had some police problems for as long as I can remember, probably because there are so many cities and towns that if a police officer is fired from one locality, it's not that difficult to pick up a job elsewhere. And profiling, unfortunately, has existed as long as I can remember and although not nearly as bad as it once was, it's doubtful that it has entirely left. Most police officers are professionals but an area of some 15 million residents requires work to maintain that professionalism across the region.



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