So early this morning - really early this morning (considering I'm on the west coast) - I wrote about my outrage about a University of Florida student being arrested at a John Kerry event, even if he acted like an ass. I thought the arrest was completely unfair and unprovoked. After all, you don't arrest somebody because they took too long at the microphone or yelled at a politician. I demanded that John Kerry apologize to the student - who, now from news reports, we know is named Andrew Meyer. Well, it turns out I was wrong. There's more to the story than that. John Kerry's Online Communications Director responded to the blogging community - who first brought the video to people's attention - on Daily Kos earlier today. From the accounts he's heard, he gives us this version of the story:
Now, to the narrative as I got it from JK and a couple others who were there ... First, the preamble to the video (much of this closely tracks to this diary) ... there was a long line of people waiting to ask questions, and Meyer was near the back. He rushed up to the mic, butting up past many, many kids and making a scene. Apparently he’d been talking with the police and they were arguing long before Meyer ever got to the mic (reports from Florida are that they threatened him with arrest already).This account seems to be confirmed by Kerry's own statement (emphasis mine)
In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way. I believe I could have handled the situation without interruption, but I do not know what warnings or other exchanges transpired between the young man and the police prior to his barging to the front of the line and their intervention. I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of answering him when he was taken into custody. I was not aware that a taser was used until after I left the building. I hope that neither the student nor any of the police were injured. I regret enormously that a good healthy discussion was interrupted.The formal account from the University also seems to indicate that part of the reason for him being taken away was that he had run out of his allotted time to ask a question, and would not willingly surrender his microphone:
"He apparently asked several questions - he went on for quite awhile - then he was asked to stop," university spokesman Steve Orlando said. "He had used his allotted time. His microphone was cut off, then he became upset."All of this is actually true. If you look at the full video - submitted via YouTube for a CNN iReport - this is actually taken from a much better angle than the other videos - you will see his time running out, and then the police trying to remove him You can also see other students there clapping for his arrest, which probably confirms the account that he jumped in line, in front of other students waiting to ask their questions. Now that, and then hanging onto your microphone after you've been warned and then cut off, that's disorderly enough conduct for his removal from there, which was what the cops were trying to do. You can even see them give him a warning during his rant. So, yes, mea culpa time for me. I apologize to Sen. Kerry for accusing of standing by and watching police state action. I should have waited for a more complete account to come out. It was my impatience and I am not going to make any excuses for it. However, this does also raise the question of tasers. There were 4 or 5 police officers on Meyer. Why did they need a taser to subdue him? This warrants serious investigation. And according to university, two officers have been placed on administrative leave and the use of force is being investigated. We'll see what happens.