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   Vol. 70/No. 46           December 4, 2006  
Hundreds protest use of Taser gun
on student by UCLA campus police
LOS ANGELES—More than 500 students and other young people rallied November 17 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) after campus police shot UCLA student Mostafa Tabatabainejad repeatedly with a Taser stun gun. Tabatabainejad, a 23-year-old Iranian-American student, was studying in the university library when campus cops ordered him to leave for not showing his student ID card. In removing him from the library, officers used the weapon, which fires electrified darts, on him a total of five times—including three while handcuffed, according to protestors.

Tabatabainejad is suing the campus police department for brutal excessive force and false arrest. Tabatabainejad’s attorney, Stephen Yagman, stated that the student declined to show his ID card because he was singled out for his Middle Eastern appearance and was being racially profiled. “We’re here to protest the excessive use of force,” said Sabiha Ameen, president of the Muslim Students Association, at the November 17 rally. “We do not feel safe on campus anymore. This is why we are demanding an independent investigation be carried out with students and that the officers involved in the action be immediately suspended.” The event was called by more than 50 student organizations and supported by campus organizations across the country.

A video made of the attack by a witness shows Tabatabainejad saying he’s going to leave and the repeated tasering by officers. “There’s been a lot of outrage,” said Negin Yaginhoot, a third-year student at UCLA. “In the video, you can see a girl ask the police for their badge numbers and they respond by threatening to Taser her too.”

Midway through the rally, protesters decided to march to the university police headquarters carrying signs that read, “I am a student, Don’t Taser me!” and chanting “U-C-P-D, You disgust me!” As they approached, police locked the doors, turned off the lights, and dressed in riot gear, according to The Daily Bruin, the UCLA student newspaper.

So far the officers involved have not been suspended nor put on leave. The day after the demonstration, UCLA acting chancellor Norman Abrams said that an independent investigation of the event would be launched, headed up by Merrick Bobb, who was also a part of the investigations of the Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King.  
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