This video shows the question leading up to the police harassment. The video quality is poor, so here is a transcript:
Meyer: I first and foremost want to thank you for your time. You spent a lot of time talking to us. I want to thank you for coming and being open and honest. You recommended a book to us earlier. I wanted to recommend a book to you. It’s called Armed Madhouse. It’s by Greg Palast.
Kerry: Yeah, I have it.
Meyer: He’s the top investigative journalist in America.
Kerry: I’ve already read it.
Meyer: And he says you won the 2004 election! Isn’t that amazing? You won in 2004. In fact, there were multiple reports on the day of the election of disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida and Ohio.
Kerry: So what’s the question?
Police officers step aside of Meyer.
Meyer: Thank you very much. That’s my question. [Says something indistinct to police officers aside of him.] He’s been talking for two hours. I think I can have two minutes. Thank you. Thank you very much.
Kerry: So what’s the question?
Meyer: I’m going to give you my question. I’m going to inform people and then I’m going to ask you my question. So there are multiple reports of disenfranchisement of black voters on the day of the election 2004. There’s also voting machines, electronic voting machines, in Florida that counted backwards. So amidst all these reports of phony, bogus stuff going on how can you concede the election on the day?
Scattered applause in the background.
Meyer: How could you concede the 2004 election on the day? In this book it says there were five million votes that were suppressed and that you won the election. Didn’t you want to be president? I’m not even done yet. I have two more questions.
The crowd murmurs.
Meyer: If you are so against [invading] Iran how come you’re not saying, “Let’s impeach Bush now. Impeach Bush now before he can invade Iran?” Why don’t we impeach him? Clinton got impeached for what? A blowjob? Why don’t we impeach Bush? Also were you a member of Skull and Bones in college with [George W.] Bush, the same secret society?
And then this happened:
John Kerry has released a statement on the event and in usual Kerry fashion, he muddles his statement into political sludge, refusing to take any discernable position on the brutality of the police officers, the questions posed by Meyer, or even present a thought on why this happened.
In other developments, Greg Palast, the author of the book that got this student in so much trouble, has written about the incident on his website and includes an excerpt from Armed Madhouse. Also, Salon.com writer Farhad Manjoo has written an interesting piece on the use of tasers by campus police officers across the nation.
While the blatant infringement on Meyer’s freedom of expression and the brutality of the police officers certainly inspires vitriol, it is the vacant compliance of his fellow students that really bothers me. This man was pinned to the ground by at least three officers, screamed and pleaded for help, and no one moved. A few cries can be heard by sympathetic voices and apparently a few rose to get a better look, but no one dared to challenge the police officers even as they repeatedly tased this unarmed student. A few even applauded as he was removed from the hall.
In a way this video is a very appropriate microcosm of the culture in which we now live. Politicians and other public figures take to the stage and tell us what we want to hear, sometimes even telling us some inconvenient truths, but are always careful to stop short of moving us to action. The political process becomes a spectator sport to be discussed on blogs, on talk shows, and made into documentaries, but never actually entered into. The unspoken agreement between officials and the public at large is to never require actual commitment or suggest action that might alleviate the status quo. Andrew Meyer broke this agreement and asked John Kerry some relevant questions and demanded accountablity for his (in)action. To put it another way, Meyer participated in the democratic process, and for that he was violently silenced.
I’ll admit that Meyer crossed the line between asking a question and giving a speech and he certainly could have used a little more brevity. But the authority’s response to him was unjustified and illegal and Meyer was completely within his rights to resist. He wasn’t being placed under arrest. He was being attacked.
I hope Meyer fights charges of resisting arrest and I further hope that he files a counter suit against the school and the police officers. But what I really hope is that this video becomes the equivalent of the image of Kent State students shot by National Guardsmen while protesting the Vietnam War, because that is exactly what this is.