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YouTube at UCLA November 16, 2006

Posted by James G. Milles in Citizen Journalism.
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(Updated below.)

From The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Cellphone Photographers Capture a Harrowing Incident at UCLA

YouTube may help end the careers of a few police officers at the University of California at Los Angeles — and if it does, it’s unlikely that students at the university will shed many tears.

Last night the Daily Bruin reported that campus police officers had shot a student several times with a Taser after the student refused to leave a library computer lab. The article featured some strong words: A UCLA alumnus who witnessed the incident called it “the most disgusting and vile act I had ever seen in my life.” But what really struck a chord with blogs — where news of the incident has spread like wildfire — was a harrowing video recording made by a student with a cellphone camera.

The video, which was posted almost immediately on YouTube, shows an officer repeatedly shooting the student (identified by the Los Angeles Times as Mostafa Tabatabainejad) with a Taser as he screams in agony and rage and other students try to intervene. To say the least, it’s hard to watch.

The incident is, among other things, a case study in how quickly news spreads in the age of YouTube. Just as cellphone documentarians and online pundits helped harden resistance to Gallaudet University’s presidential-selection process (The Chronicle, November 10), outraged bloggers and blog aggregators may have turned the fracas at UCLA into nationwide news. —Brock Read

Update: The L.A. Times reports:

The latest in a recent spate of cellphone videos documenting questionable arrest tactics surfaced Wednesday, this one showing a UCLA police officer using a Taser to stun a student who allegedly refused to leave the campus library….

The incident was the third videotape of an arrest to surface in the last week in Los Angeles.

One video showed a Los Angeles Police Department officer dousing a handcuffed suspect in the face with pepper spray as the suspect sat in a patrol car.

That video came to light Monday, just days after the LAPD and the FBI launched investigations into another videotape showing a police officer hitting a suspect in the face several times after a foot chase in Hollywood.

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